Um, hello? What's with all the ugly gray boxes?

- or -

“How the Web was won (from UNISYS), and where it got us”

If you're looking at this page, either you really like to read about things I hate (not likely) or you saw my cleverly-hidden message at the bottom of my valentine's essay (more likely). If that's the case, you may have noticed that my usually-clean-and-attractive design sense seems to have gone out the window, thanks to some ugly gray boxes on that page. You may even ask yourself, "what's the deal?" (Go ahead, ask yourself.)

Yeah, so, PNG is a great file format: 24 bits, 8 bits of alpha, gamma correction, no patented algorithms, open source. It's been available for a while as an alternative to GIF for lossless image compression. Take that, UNISYS (who have been trying to collect royalties on all GIF images currently in use on account of a patent they hold but have elected not to enforce until now).

I lurve that alpha transparency. It makes for some cool in-HTML compositing of images — things you can't just do in Photoshop, because maybe the images move around in different ways when you resize the page, or maybe there's HTML text involved, or whatever.

Right, back to the complaint. I intended for you to see pretty drop shadows, but instead you saw big gray boxes. Why, in 2002, does MSIE for Windows (which professes to support PNG) not render the alpha transparency? (Even in version 6, this is broken.)


this is probably what you see this is what you ought to see

Browsers that I know of that support PNG-with-alpha: MSIE for MacOS, Opera, Mozilla and Netscape 6, and the now-defunct BeIA browser, "Wagner" (based on Opera, get it?).

I mean, come on, Microsoft. there's no excuse.

[More info: alpha test from]