News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Progress for Netscape By Wesley Felter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my last story, Broken Inside, I criticized Netscape for only increasing the perceived innovation of their browser without improving core functionality. Today I'm happy to report that they're moving in the right direction.
Plug-ins are fixed
Plug-ins were never meant to use the <EMBED> tag. Think about it: What's the difference between an <EMBED> tag and an <IMG> tag? Nothing besides the way they're implemented in the browser. If it's built-in to Navigator, use <IMG>, if it uses a plug-in, use <EMBED>. A page author should not have to decide how content will be viewed when creating a page. Cyberdog made this even more obvious: What's implemented in the browser and what's a plug-in? In OpenDoc, everything's a plug-in!
This distinction made no sense, and indications are than Netscape will be doing away with it in the next release of Communicator.
PNG to the rescue
What caused Netscape to see the light about plug-ins was a new image format called PNG. They knew that they needed to support it, but like many other technologies, they didn't have the resources internally to do it. So they contracted to another company to create a plug-in. But you're supposed to use the <IMG> tag for PNG images. Finally realizing that they were standing in the way of progress, they removed the limitation.
If you have Communicator for Win32, here's the plug-in: http://www.siegelgale.com/png/
Sometime soon, expect to hear my pitch on what server vendors and Webmasters need to do to support PNG.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 will also support PNG.