W3C v/s Developer Community

W3C again finds itself fighting the Web designer and developer community. It seems to have started from Andy Clarke’s call for reorganizing the CSS Working Group. Andy raises a concern that browser vendors, which compete with each other, will act in good interest of collaboratively developing the new CSS standard. A lot of developers seem to have backed it up, with their concerns too. In fact Jeff Croft had questioned composition of the W3C team as none of them were active developers.

W3C has been there earlier. But this time the developer community is asking for a reorganization, not incremental improvements.

This sentiment seems to be rising from a feeling of lack of sufficient representation from the developer community. After all they are the ones who use the technologies and create something for the laymen to use. I think it is extremely important that the roles of various players in the CSS Working Group, especially the browser vendors, is transparent to the developer community. Is it dependent on what the vendors can implement or what the users and hence the developers need?

There is also the concern that W3C is hurting innovation. Jeff Croft supports Alex Russel in asking W3C to loosen the noose of standards so that the browser makers do not get curbed. For long many have felt that W3C is working too slow in evolving CSS and HTML standards to solve today’s needs. Andy Budd suggested we have an interim version of CSS.

I do not want the browser war again. As a developer, I love what Alex says, but shudder to think about it as a user. Too many times have I not used a service because that damn thing does not work in the browser I am using. However, I think browsers should be allowed to experiment and come up with innovative solutions. But there is an urgent need then, to standardize them. Standards are neither for the benefit of browsers nor for the developers, they are for the users.

It is good to read people like Jeffrey Zeldman and Jeremy Keith defending the working groups. But I personally share the concern that we are too slow, and I hope that this will be soon addressed.

I am in no position to even think about who should be part of the group. One thing I am sure of is that the group has to pay heed to the developers to understand the requirements, and give enough freedom to the browser vendors to find solutions. Most importantly, follow it up with standardization, or it will be just another jungle.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. John Melling said:

    Very good summary on a few things I’ve been reading about recently. I for one are leaning towards the idea that although standards are great, unless we innovate the whole industry will still be waiting for the browsers to pick up parts of the standards that they’ve missed or ignored. Instead of waiting, in the meantime everything else should innovating.

    In this day and age, the primary users of the internet are capable of downloading and installing a sub 25mb program – the latest browser – in not too long of a time. We can have innovation and still have standards, but we have to push for support and user take-up. Theres no reason why we can’t follow a Mores Law type principal. Firefox has inbuilt update checking, IE has Windows’ updating. We should be a year ahead of where we are now.

    Take the CPU analogy again, the two leaders of CPU production in the desktop market are Intel and AMD. They build CPU’s based on the x86 standard but produce them in a different way. The basic core functionality is the similar ifnot the same, but the way they have reached their current potential is different. The CPU war has brung us multi-cores. Remember, wars develop things, they’re not necessarily that bad.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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