Review: FidoNet FidoNews

Aesthetic and Technical Review of (page gone)
by jim barchuk
24 August 1996 10:00pm

Pages tested under:
Netscape Navigator 2.02
Windows 3.11
VGA 640/480
14.4k modem

Since this site is a single HTML page this review will proceed simply from top to bottom.


The first thing the reader should see is the topic, the 'purpose' of the page. It is strongly suggested that the htmlZine references should be move to very near the bottom of the page

Full paragraphs of 'centered' text are difficult to read. It is highly recommended that the first three paragraphs of text not be centered.

The 'international flags' dividers are quite appropriate for the topic, and their use is limited and suitable. The animated gif effect however is a bit 'distracting', recommend plain gifs. The animated book at 'Sign the FidoNews Guestbook' is perfectly unobtrusive.

The 'click here' and 'download' phrasing of some of the hotlinks is unnecessary. For instance, the link that read 'Click here to download this week's FidoNews hot off the presses' should more appropriately read 'This week's FidoNews hot off the presses'. Similarly, the link that reads 'Download the FidoNews PGP public-key here' should read 'FidoNews PGP public-key'. The point of these recommendations is to reduce the 'wordiness' of the hotlink text while retaining necessary information. For instance, the hotlink that reads 'Archival storage of ALL FidoNews...' is perfect.

The log cabin logo is a hotlink graphic. The text associated with it, 'Go to FidoNet's Webpage' should also be a hotlink. The reason being that until the graphic itself is downloaded the link is 'unavailable'. It is a very good idea to construct pages to be as accessible as possible in pure text mode.


There are a few minor technical HTML flaws. Their repair is recommended to insure proper operation of the page under as wide a variety of browsers as possible. Some browsers are quite 'forgiving' and overlook these flaws. Other browsers might have 'problems' with the flaws, with symptoms ranging from page display other than intended to spectacular crashes.

It is inappropriate to use <H#> 'header' tags for text sizing purposes. The reason is that not all browsers interpret these tags via text size. Some use bold or italic text or indentation. For text sizing, <FONT SIZE="+n"> is recommended.

The use of <CENTER> is not a 'good idea' for general use, it is not part of the HTML spec, it is a 'Netscapism'. <Hn ALIGN="CENTER"> and <P ALIGN="CENTER"> are appropriate and available.

The <P> container has conventionally been used as a 'paragraph delimiter'. The use of<P></P> pairs is strongly recommended. The purpose is to make it perfectly clear to the browser exactly where paragraph start and end.

In lines 6, 45, 47 and 50 the '&' character should be written as '&#38;'. It is possible for this to be unfeasible under certain circumstances due to the limitations of the servers/code of the sites called by these HREFs, but rather than using faulty HTML it is recommended that these sites be informed of the faulty HTML they require.

In line 50 there is a misplaced </FONT> tag, it belongs outside the </A> tag. I'm not quite sure what's intended here, the 'size>' looks a little odd.

The mailto: service is not universally supported by all browsers. A visible text version of the address is highly recommended.

A visible URL for the page is highly recommended. There's no way of knowing 'how' a reader will arrive at any page. If they save a local copy there should be a record embedded in the page of exactly where it resides and how to return to the original site.

It is very highly recommended that HEIGHT and WIDTH attribute be applied to all IMG tags. The purpose is to allow the browser to display text to the reader sooner while the images themselves are still downloading. For this to work all images must have HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes.

HREF links that do not terminate with an exact filename should end with a '/'. The purpose is to achieve slightly faster negotiation between client and server.


Overall appearance and utility is very good. Page is simple and clean and loads quickly. The few aesthetic and technical recommendations would perfect it. My sincerest compliments for this page.

Copyright 1996 jim barchuk