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Server side scripting of styles to suit the browser

I'm updating our web site and, naturally, I want to use current standards for my HTML, and some of the newer features such as style sheets to make the web site cleaner and easier to navigate. But I was faced with a conflict - I want to be able to support customers who are browsing to our site with older browsers, AND I want to be able to make full use of style sheets and other newer facilities for those users with recent client software.

A first approach of attempting to come up with a set of style sheets to work with all our target browsers turned ino something of a complex exercise. It's pretty disheartening to spend a lot of time applying a fix to "kludge" one browser just to find that you've upset another. and the resulting file gets twice as hard to maintain each time a new set of browser support is added. Quite simply, it's not practical to come up with a single set of HTML and CSS that will well on all the older browsers AND will support the facilities of the newer ones that we wish to use

Our solution is to add PHP code into the style sheet ... and to tell the web server that .css files are to be parsed through the PHP module. It works a treat, and we set a header line to ensure the browser is told it's actually getting .css data. We can even pass parameters into the style sheet - in this example, to tell it to use a larger base font size to suit the accessability requirements of the disability discrimination act if need be.

<?php
header("content-type: text/css");
$mencolour = "#ffffcc";
$texcolour = "#000000";
$bfsize = 10;
if ($_REQUEST[fsize] == 1) $bfsize = 16;
?>

body {
font: normal <?= $bfsize ?>px verdana;
color: <?= $texcolour ?>;
}
(written 2005-09-12, updated 2006-06-05)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
A211 - Web Application Design and Deployment
  [3532] Sharing the user experience - designing a form with the customer in mind - (2011-11-29)
  [2072] Copyright, Portability and other nontechnical web site issues - (2009-03-09)
  [1798] What does an browser understand? What does an HTML document contain? - (2008-09-15)
  [1547] New bathing idea for hotels from Hotelympia - (2008-02-20)
  [1545] Letting new visitors know we provide training courses - (2008-02-19)
  [1351] Compressing web pages sent out from server. Is it worth it? - (2007-09-14)
  [1256] What country are you in? How we find out on our web site - (2007-07-03)
  [1198] From Web to Web 2 - (2007-05-21)
  [767] Finding the language preference of a web site visitor - (2006-06-18)
  [659] Web Application Components - (2006-03-28)
  [356] Sudoku helper or sudoku cheat - (2005-06-23)
  [23] Skills and responsibilities - (2004-08-22)

H112 - PHP - Further Web Page and Network Handling
  [4483] Moving from mysql to mysqli - simple worked example - (2015-05-03)
  [4070] Passing variable between PHP pages - hidden fields, cookies and sessions - (2013-04-26)
  [3918] Multiple page web applications - maintaining state - PHP - (2012-11-10)
  [3568] Telling which ServerAlias your visitor used - useful during merging domains - (2012-01-04)
  [3540] Easy session example in PHP - keeping each customers data apart - (2011-12-06)
  [3432] 3 digit HTTP status codes - what are they, which are most common, which should be a concern? - (2011-09-11)
  [3036] Sending out an email containing HTML from within a PHP page - (2010-11-07)
  [2918] Downloading a report from the web for further local analysis - (2010-08-13)
  [2729] Uploading a document or image to its own URL via a browser - (2010-04-18)
  [2679] How to build a test harness into your PHP - (2010-03-16)
  [2632] Shipping a test harness with your class in PHP - (2010-02-12)
  [1549] http, https and ajp - comparison and choice - (2008-02-22)
  [1518] Downloading data for use in Excel (from PHP / MySQL) - (2008-01-25)
  [1515] Keeping staff up to date on hotel room status - (2008-01-22)
  [1505] Script to present commonly used images - PHP - (2008-01-13)
  [1496] PHP / Web 2 logging - (2008-01-06)
  [1495] Single login and single threaded models - Java and PHP - (2008-01-04)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1379] Simple page password protection - PHP - (2007-10-04)
  [1355] .php or .html extension? Morally Static Pages - (2007-09-17)
  [1210] PHP header() function - uses and new restrictions - (2007-05-30)
  [1187] Updating a page strictly every minute (PHP, Perl) - (2007-05-14)
  [1183] Improving searches - from OR to AND? - (2007-05-11)
  [1114] PHP Image upload script - (2007-03-21)
  [1009] Passing GET parameters through Apache mod_rewrite - (2006-12-27)
  [936] Global, Superglobal, Session variables - scope and persistance in PHP - (2006-11-21)
  [904] Of course I'll tell you by email - (2006-10-25)
  [847] Image maps for navigation - a straightforward example - (2006-08-28)
  [789] Hot answers in PHP - (2006-07-02)
  [675] Adding PHP tags to an old cgi program - (2006-04-08)
  [603] PHP - setting sort order with an associative array - (2006-02-13)
  [565] Using PHP to output images, XML, Style sheets, etc - (2006-01-15)
  [542] Morning image, afternoon image - (2005-12-26)
  [537] Daily Image Santafied - (2005-12-22)
  [484] Setting the file name for a downloaded document - (2005-11-03)
  [451] Accessing a page via POST from within a PHP script - (2005-09-26)
  [425] Caching an XML feed - (2005-08-26)
  [410] Reading a news or blog feed (RSS) in your PHP page - (2005-08-12)
  [376] What brings people to my web site? - (2005-07-13)
  [372] Time calculation in PHP - (2005-07-08)
  [345] Spotting a denial of service attack - (2005-06-12)
  [314] What language is this written in? - (2005-05-17)
  [220] When to use Frames - (2005-02-19)


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Upgrade!
You cant
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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