HTML and CSS Reference
The Web Is Cross-Platform
If you can access the Internet, you can access the World Wide Web, regardless of
whether you're working on a low-end PC or a fancy expensive workstation. These days,
you can even access the Web from most mobile phones. If you think Windows menus
and buttons look better than Macintosh menus and buttons or vice versa (or if you think
both Macintosh and Windows people are weenies), it doesn't matter. The World Wide
Web isn't limited to any one kind of machine or developed by any one company. The
Web is entirely cross-platform.
Cross-platform means that you can access web information equally well from any com-
puter hardware running any operating system using any display.
The Cross-Platform Ideal
The whole idea that the Web is—and should be—cross-platform is strongly held to
by purists. The reality, however, is somewhat different. With the introduction over the
years of numerous special features, technologies, and media types, the Web has
lost some of its capability to be truly cross-platform. As web authors choose to use
these nonstandard features, they willingly limit the potential audience for the content
of their sites. For example, a site centered on a Flash animation is essentially unus-
able for someone using a browser that doesn't have a Flash player, or for a user
who might have turned off Flash for quicker downloads. Similarly, some programs
that extend the capabilities of a browser (known as plug-ins ) are available only for
one platform (either Windows, Macintosh, or UNIX). Choosing to use one of those
plug-ins makes that portion of your site unavailable to users who are either on the
wrong platform or don't want to bother to download and install the plug-in.
The Web Is Distributed
Web content can take up a great deal of space, particularly when you include images,
audio, and video. To store all the information, graphics, and multimedia published on the
Web, you would need an untold amount of disk space, and managing it would be almost
impossible. (Not that there aren't people who try.) Imagine that you were interested in
finding out more information about alpacas (Peruvian mammals known for their wool),
but when you selected a link in your online encyclopedia, your computer prompted you
to insert CD-ROM #456 ALP through ALR. You could be there for a long time just
looking for the right CD-ROM!