Details on Fresco Specifications and Good Web Design

What is Ant Fresco?

Fresco is a web browser designed for the RISC operating system initially installed on Acorn computers but now also installed on a range of powerful computer workstations. It is roughly compatible to Microsoft Internet Explorer in terms of web browsing.
The latest version is 2.13. Versions prior to 2.02 do not have Javascript capability.

Fresco is capable of rendering pages containing Java and Macromedia Flash, providing that the relevant third-party 'plugins' have been installed. The Java VM plugin should be available from Acorn dealers whereas Flash can be downloaded from

Fresco also supports a plugin protocol so that third-party programmers can also develop additional plugins for it.

Why make web pages non browser specific?

Unfortunately, many web designers let themselves fall into the trap of designing web sites specific to particular 'brands' of browser - such as Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE).

Although these MSIE arguably dominates the desktop computer market at present, the topography of the internet is rapidly changing and soon it will no longer be the dominant web browser, if not already. With the emergence of new technologies such as mobile phone browsers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) such as Palms, iPaqs and other handheld devices, Next generation game consoles such as the Playstation, Sega Dreamcast, XBox and all manner of new 'web-enabled' devices, many cannot view web sites which contain 'glossy content' such as Javascript, Flash and Windows-specific plugins.

Considering that the philosophy of the internet is that virtually everything anyone requires is available via a few mouse clicks, you have to bear in mind that if a customer cannot view your site, they will no longer persevere or even complain, preferring simply to visit your competition which is a mere click away.

To this end, it is foolish to design a web site that requires a specific browser, especially when you are trying to attract customers in such a competitive area as the internet arena. A good web designer will bear this in mind when implementing features which may encourage potential customers to click elsewhere.

Design Rule No.1: Competition is only a click away, so make sure you keep your customers.

How Fresco identifies itself to server-side CGI

If you are using server-side environment variables to test which browser is being used, you should note that Fresco returns the following:-

Navigator Code Name  Mozilla
Navigator Name  ANT Fresco
Navigator Version  3.04 (compatible; ANTFresco/2.13; RISC OS 3.70)
Navigator Java-enabled  YES
Navigator User-Agent  Mozilla/3.04 (compatible; ANTFresco/2.13; RISC OS 3.70)
Navigator Platform  undefined

Note that Fresco version 2.13 can 'fake' its environment variables to those given by Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape etc by installing the AntUtils plugin which is available to download from

How Fresco identifies itself via Javascript

If testing for browser version via Javascript (which is not recommended), Fresco returns

navigator.appName = ANT Fresco

Again, versions 2.13 or above can fake MSIE and Netscape Javascript browser names via AntUtils.

Design Rule No.2: Javascript is bad.

If you would like more information on making your web pages compatible with Ant Fresco, or multi-platform browsers in general, please feel free to contact me and I will endeavour to offer more help.

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Last edit: 10th Apr 2016 at 1:55pm
(2968 days ago)

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