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HTML Extensions
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HTML Extensions at

There are over 1,000 websites hosted on the webserver by almost as many web designers. We've had reports from very few of these designers related to having problems designing pages to work on our server. There is one exception: Web designers using Microsoft Front Page to develop their websites. There have been numerous problems reported by designers using this tool. While almost all other web design tools produce HTML pages that can simply be uploaded and downloaded from our web server, Microsoft Front Page produces entire families of auxiliary files for every web page created! Entire sets of files have to be correctly uploaded into a tree of folders on the server in order for such sites to work properly. Any mistake in the uploading or downloading process can cause your website to malfunction and it can be a bear to find and correct these problems.

A few of the people that have their websites hosted at are expert in using Microsoft Front Page and they do seem to be using this tool without a problem. They seem to know how to get around the quirks of MS Front Page. If you don't have a great deal of MS Front Page experience, I would strongly recommend that you use some other web design tool. As best as we can tell, ANY web design tool seems to work just fine with except for MS Front Page. The TrainWeb staff CAN NOT provide you with any technical help related to problems with a web site designed using MS Front Page as our staff has no expertise in this area. We also DO NOT have a list of MS Front Page experts available as a resource to you. Thus, we are sorry to say, if you decide to use MS Front Page to design your website despite this warning, you are pretty much on your own. We really recommend that you use some other web design tool if at all possible.

Occasionally we are asked if TrainWeb supports the Microsoft Front Page Extensions. The answer is "yes" and "no". TrainWeb does not endorse the use of any HTML features that violate the current standards as promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). HTML Extensions, whether implemented by Microsoft, Netscape, or some other web browser company or web server company, are violations of the HTML standards.

It is important to understand that not all of the Microsoft Front Page HTML Extensions are supported by web servers other than Microsoft web servers, nor can all web pages containing Microsoft Front Page HTML Extensions be viewed correctly except by visitors browsing the web using Microsoft Internet Explorer. Thus, if you use the Microsoft Front Page HTML Extensions, then the web pages that you design will not look the way you designed them to visitors using web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Netscape and others. By the same token, not all Netscape HTML Extensions are supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer. Pages that you design that include HTML extensions from any particular web browser vendor will not display properly when viewed using a web browser from a different web browser company. Sometimes, HTML extensions will cause the pages you designed to not display at all when viewed by a web browser that does not support the particular HTML extensions that you have incorporated into your web pages!

TrainWeb uses an Apache Web Server running under the Linux operating system. The Apache Web Server is by far the most common web server used on PC based systems. Unix and close derivatives such as Linux are the most common operating system used for web servers. The Apache Web Server does completely support the current HTML standards.

In order to support the full range of Microsoft HTML Extensions, a website has to be hosted on a Windows Microsoft Web Server. If you use Microsoft Front Page to design your web pages and use Microsoft HTML Extensions, you are likely to run into difficulties when hosting them on any web server other than one from Microsoft. If you call Microsoft to ask them for help with your difficulties, they will usually tell you that you need to move your web hosting to a Microsoft Web Server to solve your problems. This blatently reveals that the reason for Microsoft violating the HTML industry standards with "extensions" is to force web designers to use software products from Microsoft! The goal is to get web designers to pressure their web service providers to purchase and operate web server software from Microsoft. If Microsoft were not violating the HTML industry standards, then web pages designed with Microsoft Front Page would work fine on any web server that supports the industry standards. Thus, we plan to continue to discourage all of the web sites hosted at TrainWeb from implementing features that violate the HTML standards.

We encourage all web designers to avoid MS Front Page HTML Extensions, Netscape HTML Extensions, and any other HTML extensions that violate the current HTML standards. We strongly support the idea that all pages implemented by web designers should appear to the web visitor the way the web designer intended, regardless of which web browser the web visitor is using and regardless of which web server software is used by the web hosting company. This is the whole purpose of having a standard! If the web pages that you design do not violate the HTML industry standards, then your web pages will work fine on the TrainWeb server.

I still cringe when I see the graphic on a web site that says "This site looks best when viewed with Internet Explorer" or "with Netscape". Basically the web designer of that site is announcing that he has used HTML extensions that violate the HTML standards and his web site might look lousy if you don't use the web browser preferred by the web designer. I tend to feel a bit hostile toward web sites that want to force their preferred web browser on me.

TrainWeb does not display a "Best Viewed With ..." graphic but instead has taken the Web Interoperability Pledge (WIP) and displays the following graphic:

Viewable With Any Browser

The Web Interoperability Pledge (WIP) is a promise to adhere to current HTML standards as promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). I'd strongly recommend that you click here to find out what the pledge is all about before you start using HTML commands in your web pages that violate the standards that have been agreed upon by the web industry.

Click Here For More Information
On The "USE ANY BROWSER" Campaign

Both Microsoft and Netscape have added some features to their web browsers and servers that make it possible to design web pages that will not look or work properly with each other's web browsers nor with web browsers from other companies. These added features are what they call "HTML Extensions". "HTML Extensions" sounds nice, like you are getting more for your money, but a more accurate description would be "HTML Standards Violations"!

An example might be like building railcars with a 6 foot gauge. Such a gauge would allow railcars to hold a lot more. You could claim that the 6 foot gauge railcar is "superior" to the "standard" gauge railcar. However, with almost no tracks in this nation with a 6 foot gauge, you would be very limited as to where you could use such a railcar! So, where an "extension" might at first seem like something better than the standard, it can actually turn out to be a detriment when you end up with a final product that is incompatible with a significant amount of what is already in place.

Progress is wonderful, but it also helps when the designers of web browsers and servers come together to agree on a common standard for the new features. In that way, web designers like ourselves can continue to build web pages that we know will look the same to visitors regardless of the brand of server hosting our web pages and the brand of web browser being used by visitors to view our web pages.

We urge you to think twice before you endorse the efforts of any one vendor to attempt to dominate the process of setting new HTML standards. When a vendor implements new HTML features before they have become part of the industry standard, they are attempting to dictate their ideas to us and the rest of the web industry. We endorse the idea that all web pages should work the same on any brand of web server and with any brand of web browser that implements the latest HTML standards.

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