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Preface

Preface

I am going to admit a selfish motive for writing this book: I needed the finished product for my own consulting and development work. After struggling with tangled online references and monstrous printed versions of Netscape, Microsoft, and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) documentation for Dynamic HTML (DHTML) features, I had had enough. My human brain could no longer store the parallels and discrepancies of the hundreds of terms for HTML attributes, style sheets, and scriptable object models. And no browser maker was about to tell me how compatible a particular feature might be in another browser. It was clearly time to roll my own reference.

At first, I thought the project would be a relatively straightforward blending of content from available sources, with a pinch of my development experience thrown in for flavoring. But the more I examined the existing documents, the worse the situation became. Developer documentation from the browser makers, and even the W3C, contained inconsistencies and incomplete (if at times erroneous) information. From the very beginning, it was clear that I could not trust anything I read, but instead had to try as much as I could on as many browsers and browser versions as I could. Multiply all that code testing by the hundreds of HTML attributes, CSS attributes, object properties, object methods, and event handlers...before I knew it, many extra months of day-and-night coding and writing were history.

The result of that effort is the DHTML reference I've been wanting for a long time—one that is especially well suited to creating content that works on Navigator and Internet Explorer. But even if you have the luxury of working in only one of the browser brands, you should find the organization and browser version information in this book valuable in your day-to-day development work. You may also encounter descriptions of features that are not documented, but came to light as a result of my probing into the inner workings of both browsers.

I would be the last person on the planet to promise that this book is perfect in every way. In many instances, when a discrepancy between vendor documentation and observable reality occurred, I documented the reality. But there were times during my explorations when even the observed reality didn't jibe with either the documentation or logical expectations. In some instances, the documents say one thing, and the implementations in two different operating system versions of the same browser exhibit two entirely different behaviors. I have tried to point out those issues as cautions for your own development, hoping for clarification in future versions of the browsers and the W3C documents.

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