Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, June 25, 2004

Why Web Standards Are Important

"There comes a point in time when the actions of a few can have a profound impact on the many. In situations like these, the many must find a system of checks and balances in order to protect themselves either from the mistakes of the few, or worse, greed and power mongering of the few. Without a system of checks and balances, the many should hardly ever be surprised when the few either abuse their power, act in a fashion that neglects the needs of the many, or make mistakes that cost the many on the same grand scale that the Foundation affected the Galactic Empire. We have that system of checks and balances in place for ourselves in the specifications the W3C has provided to the world. Yet, those specs are useless if not follwed 100%. 90% is not good enough. 99% is not good enough. ...The business world has already been given one wake up call with regard to Microsoft: the horrendously poor security measures found in Windows and Microsoft Office. There is something seriously wrong when a sixteen or seventeen year old hacker can bring entire networks and systems down due to the most simplistic of virus coding. One would hope that the business world would begin to apply pressure to Microsoft over the looming issues of lack of full compliance for the standards as laid out by the W3C. If our business and political leaders don't apply pressure to Microsoft, no one should be surprised at the outcome looming on the horizon. Even more important, if we -- collectively known as the developers, coders, designers and content creators of the world -- don't do our part to educate those business and political leaders, we are all to blame in the end result." And the clue is all in this: "It benefits Microsoft NOT to update Internet Explorer, since keeping quirks and proprietary parts in it means sometimes Web sites can't work with other browsers, keeping people with IE. If Microsoft were now to stick to standards, that would open the door for other browsers to steal market share." (Dave Child) Can you see?



Andrei Herasimchuk -
Reference: Design by Fire [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2004-07-11 13:16:16

Chris Beach

The W3C is looking old and tired (and not just its website). To me the only thing it has acheived is to open the floodgates for new browsers to be developed which can claim to be 'standards compliant,' although they have bespoke rendering engines and inevitable differences. 90% of my site visitors use Internet Explorer.

The advent of Mozilla, Opera and the like simply make my role as a web developer harder as I have to deal with each browser's quirks.

I would love to see Microsoft set the defacto standards for the web.

I'm fed up with ankle-biting upstart, bleeding-heart, open-source fanatics claiming their standards are better than those set by the market leader of the computer software industry.

MS has acheived the incredible - they opened the desktop market to the masses.

As a web developer you owe them a lot.

They have brought your visitors.. and your customers. Without Windows (and it's billions of dollars worth of UI research), PC's would still be the domain of the geek. Microsoft (like many large corporates) have been ruthless, but this is just the reality of real-world business.

Granted, IE hasn't been re-released in a long time but as a mark of it's stature, it's still the leader of the pack.

With the addition of the excellent Google toolbar it sports a pop-up blocker, form auto-filler and best of all - ingenius integration with the Google search engine.

Google have not bothered creating various different versions of the toolbar for the rest of the browser rabble, and good on them!

There are those who hold up "tabbed browsing" as the be-all-and-end-all of the browser experience.

Well, you might like to experiment with docking the start-bar to the side of your screen (you can then see all the titles of your open IE windows). Since IE is well cached by Windows, new browser instances open in a jiffy. You can even have several browsers open on one desktop in any layout.

Opera/Mozilla's tabbed browsing doesn't add much more than that.

And yes, the "gestures" plugin for Mozilla is cool but at the end of the day it's just a gimmick.

Most Microsoft mice feature additional buttons which work much more elegantly.

At the dawn of personal computing there were rival platforms, and it took a while to establish the defacto standard (the x86 architecture).

It was only then that PC's started appearing in the consumer market. I don't believe any bureauocratic bodies were required to supervise this progression. It happened because of cold, hard business competition.

Although many rival platforms fell by the wayside in the process, the end result was a huge positive step for computer science in general. Intel created the x86 and once the standard was set, the doors were opened for healthy competition from the x86 clone market. Imagine the design headaches that would be resolved if we had one standard for HTML/CSS/Javascript.

Microsoft presents a very strong proposition.

At the end of the day, W3C is just a glorified discussion board.

Why should MS feel they have any responsibility to this organisation?

With IE, Microsoft have created (and assimilated) a well-thought-out and very powerful javascript DOM that, for example, supports element iteration much more flexibly than the W3C model. They have also created a rich set of CSS filter pseudo-classes which are light years ahead of CSS2.

And we're talking about a model that MS designed several years ago.

If CSS3 ever gets decided on by whichever buerocratic committee, it will be taking its lead from Microsoft's innovation.

When the next iteration of IE is released I'm hoping it will include support for PNGs with an alpha channel.

This is the only feature of any importance that the rival browsers are starting to pick up. Once this is in the bag IE has won.

Goodbye, W3C. Hello, standards!

posted by Robin Good on Friday, June 25 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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