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Computing Thoughts
The Web Is Getting Worse
by Bruce Eckel
September 13, 2007
I seem to visit more and more sites where the pages don't render right, to the point of being unreadable and unusable. And they're trying to sell me something! Why is this happening?


Things overlap or are put in the wrong place, so you might not even be able to reach the component that you need to manipulate. Often I'll have to switch from FireFox to IE in order to use the site.

I have created the CSS for my own site and I know that -- despite all the high-flying promises of CSS -- you can get radically different behavior across browsers for even relatively simple CSS. My solution is to dumb down my CSS even more because working consistently across browsers (without a Herculean effort on my part) is more important to me than being fancy.

So one contributor is probably the failure of the promise of CSS. It's definitely not write-once, run everywhere. And if you have been drawn into believing that it is, then you'll write your code for IE and assume it works across browsers without actually testing it.

However, most of the problems seem to occur when components are involved, so I'm wondering if the promises made by AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript And XML) might also be the culprit. The idea is that someone has gone to the trouble of making all these AJAX components that should work transparently across browsers, so you don't have to worry about it. But if you consume such components without testing them, maybe they don't actually work that way.

One of my designer friends has said that I have my screen resolution set too high, and that's the problem. I'm at 1600 x 1200, but that's what my monitor (an NEC AccuSync LCD 200 VX; not an unusual off-brand) insists on. Maybe it just makes these problems more obvious, but there's no way we're all going to lower our screen resolution, making pointless the better monitor, in order to compensate for stupid web design. My designer friend is about to change to a desktop Mac with a nice monitor that could easily have higher resolution than what I have, so we'll see what he says then.

What do you think is the reason for the degradation of web-page usability?

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel ( provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2007 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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