In an exchange on the W3C www-html public mailing list in February 1996, someone named Christian Gerard posed this question to the group:
“Ok I’ve been listening in to many conversations lately about different types of web pages. I recently took a look at Rogers Telecommunications based in Toronto Canada. ould someone PLEASE tell me how in the heck they were able to send information to me through the ADDRESS line in the Netscape browser? they also had multiple images over each other…
Could someone please tell me how they did that—? And how the heck can I DO THAT??”
While we can no longer view the version of www.rogers.com from February 1996, the Wayback Machine has a copy from November 1996 that includes a “Multi-Media” section and “Virtual Gallery.” So we can assume the design team were web savvy and a bit ahead of the curve for corporate websites.
Another commenter called the text scrolling feature a “bit o’ fluff,” adding that “Netscape’s homepage has it too.”
A little context: frames were another new feature in Navigator 2.0 and they allowed you to embed two or more separate HTML documents in one web page. Most commonly, frames were used to put a persistant menu on the left side of the page, with the primary content in the second frame on the right (usually taking up the bulk of the page width). You could also have your header and footer in separate frames. In later years, web designers would use CSS to do this — but in early 1996, frames were the go-to option.
Introducing the DOM
Peter-Paul Koch defined the DOM as follows:
“The Document Object Model (DOM) is the model that describes how all elements in an HTML page, like input fields, images, paragraphs etc., are related to the topmost structure: the document itself. By calling the element by its proper DOM name, we can influence it.”
He went on to note about level 0:
Growing Interest Among Developers
In any case, Netscape’s strategic priorities now far exceeded animated GIFs, scrolling text and online form checking. The company’s multimedia ambitions for the web took on a grander tone in the second half of 1996, spurred on by increasing competition from Microsoft — whose Internet Explorer 3.0 browser was also released in August 1996. In the months following, Marc Andreessen began outlining a more expansive vision for Netscape. He talked up the addition of office, networking and video functionalities into a new suite of products to be released in 1997, called Netscape Communicator. I’ll look at the details of this in a follow-up post.