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Published on April 28, 2004

Small joys of backward compatibility

Hey, this post is vintage content. It dates back more than 20 years ago: it may contain outdated and inaccurate information.

When talking about Web-standards, backwards compatibility is often mentioned. In fact, the use of standards should ensure that it is possible to usefully display a HTML page even on applications that are somewhat outdated or, in general, do not adhere to the W3C rules.

I had a splendid demonstration of this yesterday. Printing out a page of MySQL documentation, I realised that the last letters of many lines of text were completely cut off. Annoyed by this defect, which Internet Explorer has been carrying around for I don't know how many versions, I tried to print the same page using another browser; the only one available on the computer where I was working was an old version of Netscape 4.

I opened the same page with Navigator. Naturally, the style sheets were completely ignored, and the page appeared as a simple, unformatted HTML, on a single column.

I printed without any problem: no broken lines and very comfortable to read on paper.

In cases like this, the most useful feature of standards designed for the future is precisely their great adaptability to the past.

The most useful feature of standards designed for the future

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I am Silvano Stralla. I am a developer, I like taking photos and riding bikes.
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