Archive for February, 2007

The web battle #2

Monday, February 12th, 2007

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the development of HTML. There’s WHATWG developing the Web Application 1.0 specification also referred to as HTML 5 or XHTML5. The document is edited by Ian Hickson and copyrighted by Apple, Mozilla and Opera. On the other side there’s a W3C group working on XHTML2 (the old HTML WG) and then there’s talk of a new group that would work on incremental improvements of both HTML and xHTML. There’s a nice comparison available here (via Juicy Studio Colour Contrast Analyser).

The last fight “we” fought was “against” the browser makers. The browsers were going in different directions and something needed to be done. Fortunately the solution was a relatively easy one – set a standard and make/beg the vendors to create browsers that respect it. Not an easy task but it seems “we” succeeded. By “we” I mean web developers in general, the WaSP and the W3C. The standards support is not perfect yet, but it’s good enough that we are left without an enemy.

The unfortunate thing is that most people actually need an enemy. At work it’s probably their boss; at home it’s their mother-in-law… We keep making up new enemies – they give us the drive to give more than we normally do, create new things. And sometimes we just really don’t like what “the enemy” is (not) doing. I see this happening now in the world of web standards. We have many initiatives on a few fronts – we’ve got the WCAG issue and the HTML issue. It seems that on one side we have the W3C and on the other the real-life web developers community. Or do we?

As I see it we’re all on the same side. We need to figure out what to do next. And this unfortunately cannot be a democratic decision. Committees can agree on a solution but can’t really make a decision. Think about it – all the stuff we use now has a name to it. Somebody went over the line to set something as they thought it was right. The question is who that person should be now.

The trick is we will never know. We can just hope that again we’ll gain more than we lose.