Netscape and Explorer have been able to display frames since their 2.0 versions. The large number of viewers who use those browsers or Opera can view frames. However, those using Lynx or other text-based browsers are a significant minority. You should always include a <noframes> alternative </noframes> for them.
Occasionally web designers use their alternative text to scold the viewer with a note such as "You need to update your browser so that you can view frames." What is the sense of this? Perhaps this was useful several years ago when frames were a "new" feature on the web. By now, if viewers reach a site and cannot see frames displayed, it is likely that they already know their browser does not work for frames. There is probably a reason they have not changed browsers by now. Why confront them with a rude note?
Any good designer (whether designing machinery, furniture, buildings, or web pages) does not attempt to blame those who use the product if it does not work. The good designer looks for ways to improve the design. If your frameset does not work on a browser, improve your design to include an alternative means of viewing your work.
[Warning: If you use frames on your semester project, the guidelines require the use of a <noframes> alternative. Scolding text that says anything like, "You cannot see this because you use the wrong browser" will not be acceptable.]
The purpose of the <noframes> tag is to provide an alternative. Have your text within your <noframes> tags direct people to the alternative ways of viewing the page. If you write the material carefully, you can use the frames with the alternative navigation. Or you can do as I have done for this unit and provide two versions. Here is an example of what you might do inside your <noframes> tags:
By the way, if you want to get out of the frames version with a browser that does not help you do that, you can always look up the <noframes> in View>Page Source and try using the URL link for the alternative version.
See the Web Accessibility Techniques document for more ideas at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS/#frames.
Copyright by dwang, 1999, 2000. All rights reserved.