ELL: Fonts

Chuck Coker chuckc at TYRELL.COM
Mon Sep 24 15:40:03 UTC 2001

From: "Andreas Kyriacou" <andreas at kyriacou.ch>
> Andrew Cunningham wrote:
> > as an exercise i used a javascript routine to detect if the browser was
> > netscape
> > 4 or IE and insert in netscapes case a link to a dynamic font, and in
> > IE's case
> > some CSS which identified an embeded open type font source.
> Just out of interest: What do you do if you detect another browser?
> Or if a browser like Opera masks itself as NS or IE but still behaves
> differently?

During the month of August 2001, I had 1,132,345 different requests, using
2,558 different browsers, hit my web servers. (Note that these are ~my~ web
servers, not the web servers at tyrell.com, my employer.) The browser count
is based on unique User Agent strings.

A User Agent string for an Opera browser can look like this:
    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98) Opera 5.12  [en]
which will be detected as MSIE 5.0 by almost every JavaScript check I've
ever seen.

Table 1, below, is a heavily edited list of visiting browsers, sorted by the
number of requests. Table 2, below, is a list of visitor's operating
systems, sorted by the number of requests. (A monospace font makes the
numbers line up nicely.)

Of course, your mileage may vary. In fact I'm sure it will -- I have a lot
of software development information which would account for the higher than
average number of visitors from the Linux camp and the lower than average
number from the Macintosh camp.

As you can see MSIE (62.25%) and Netscape (27.52%) are by far the most
widely used browsers (89.77%) visiting my servers. While I do get visitors
using Opera (2.16%), I suspect that they are more computer savvy than the
average user. I also noticed people using Lynx (0.07%), which last time I
used it on a VAX in the early 1990s, was text-only.

I try to design my web sites to be as browser-independent as possible.
However, when I have to make a browser-dependent decision, I usually go for
the MSIE 5+ and Netscape 4.7+ crowds. I use CSS but I haven't used dynamic
fonts. Most of my decision making is done on the server using PHP (Linux) or

I also suspect that an overwhelming majority of people wanting to visit an
endangered/minority language site will be using either Windows or Macintosh
OS and the default browser that comes installed with the OS, usually MSIE.

On the other hand, if endangered/minority language people are using a
browser customized for their language, it will probably be an open source
browser which would eliminate all MSIE browsers and Netscape browsers before

What would really be nice to have is some way to find all computer-related
information for a given language on a single web site. The reason that I
think this is unlikely to happen is that everyone (myself included) thinks
~their~ way of doing things is the best way, so we have the situation where
we are trying to duplicate information across many different sites, but no
way to keep the sites in sync with one another. Something like running rsync
in a daily cron job helps, but you have to write every page to a lowest
common denominator.

Texts could be shared by putting the texts in a file that is intended to be
included with SSI, but that would also require everything in a given
language to use the same character mapping. Unicode would help for those
languages that can be entirely written using the Unicode character set,
which I assume is most languages. Unicode has a private use block
reserved -- great for characters not included in Unicode -- but everyone
would have to standardize on a common character mapping scheme for the
private use area, and that would mean some kind of standard being in place
and by definition, it would no longer be a private use block.

Naturally I am willing to offer free server space to anyone and everyone
working on endangered/minority languages, but I suspect that others are
willing to do the same, e.g., universities, organizations like SIL, etc.
Note that I can only offer space on ~my~ servers, I can't speak for Tyrell
Software, my employer.

I know that this has turned into rambling, but these are a few of my
thoughts on things.

Chuck Coker
Orange, California, United States

Table 1: Browsers

  reqs:  %reqs: browser
------: ------: -------
704247: 62.25%: MSIE
630050: 55.69%:   MSIE/5
62672:  5.54%:    MSIE/6
 11451:  1.01%:   MSIE/4
    74:  0.01%:   MSIE/3
311354: 27.52%: Netscape
207171: 18.31%:   Mozilla/4
101335:  8.96%:   Mozilla/5
  1051:  0.09%:   Mozilla/3
    55:       :   Mozilla/6
 56890:  5.03%: Netscape (compatible)
 24455:  2.16%: Opera
 24364:  2.15%:   Opera/5
    58:  0.01%:   Opera/3
    33:       :   Opera/4
  5264:  0.47%: Teleport Pro
  3607:  0.32%: WebZIP
  3560:  0.31%: Offline Explorer
  2080:  0.18%: Scooter-W3-1.0
   738:  0.07%: Lynx
   630:  0.06%: MSProxy
   353:  0.03%: Dual Proxy
   279:  0.02%: contype
   237:  0.02%: Java1.3.1
   229:  0.02%: libWeb
   224:  0.02%: DA 5.0
   216:  0.02%: EbiNess 0.1a
   213:  0.02%: Windows-Media-Player
   198:  0.02%: iCab
   152:  0.01%: RMA
   141:  0.01%: DA 4.0
   112:  0.01%: Konqueror
   110:  0.01%: SpaceBison
    95:  0.01%: FlashGet
    91:  0.01%: GetRight
    76:  0.01%: WebTV
    65:  0.01%: NSPlayer
    58:  0.01%: EmailSiphon

Table 2: Operating Systems

  reqs:  %reqs: OS
------: ------: --
788770: 69.72%: Windows
390801: 34.54%:   Windows 2000
180740: 15.98%:   Windows 98
128786: 11.38%:   Windows NT
 35835:  3.17%:   Windows Me
 30160:  2.67%:   Unknown Windows
 22410:  1.98%:   Windows 95
    23:       :   Windows 32-bit
    15:       :   Windows 3.1
266324: 23.54%: Unix
209410: 18.51%:   Linux
 31932:  2.82%:   Other Unix
 14352:  1.27%:   SunOS
  7828:  0.69%:   BSD
  1906:  0.17%:   IRIX
   436:  0.04%:   OSF1
   358:  0.03%:   HP-UX
   102:  0.01%:   AIX
 31283:  2.77%: OS unknown
 27507:  2.43%: Macintosh
 26727:  2.36%:   Macintosh PowerPC
   780:  0.07%:   Macintosh 68k
   106:  0.01%: BeOS
    81:  0.01%: OS/2
    76:  0.01%: WebTV
    54:       : Atari
    48:       : OpenVMS
    45:       : Amiga

Chuck Coker <chuckc at tyrell.com>
Software Developer, Tyrell Software Corporation
23151 Verdugo Drive, Suite 204
Laguna Hills, California 92653 United States
+1 949 458 1911 ext. 3
Extreme sports ... offer "some kind of physical analog to the thrill
of installing Linux or other open-source operating systems."
-- Mikki Halpin,  in The Geek Handbook
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