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The Pitfalls and Perks of Adopting a New Standard

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the don't-argue-do-it-my-way dept.

Programming 87

Monta writes to tell us that IBM DeveloperWorks has an interesting article about the pros and cons of 'adopting a standard before it becomes one'. From the article: "Whether a standard will succeed and be widely adopted is ambiguous at first, regardless of who endorses it -- a major player or a fringe element. So if most people don't like to welcome the new guy, why would they put all their eggs in a standards basket when that basket might not exist tomorrow?"

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Yeah... (5, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829912)

Whether a standard will succeed and be widely adopted is ambiguous at first, regardless of who endorses it -- a major player or a fringe element

...we really need a standard way of adopting a new standard.

Re:Yeah... (3, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829958)

There already is.

1. Wait for a good open standard to come out.
2. Embrace.
3. Extend incompatibly.
4. PROFIT!!!

Re:Yeah... (4, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829980)

You forgot a step.

1.5) Ignore it while calling yourself "the industry standard".

Re:Yeah... (1)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830426)

There's always

6) Gloat.

--LWM

Re:Yeah... (2, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13834097)

I know this was meant as a jest, but we already have one and it works too (or more truthfully, it used to).

It goes like this :

  1. Write an Internet-Draft RFC
  2. Implement (twice) the standard to be and deploy it
  3. Create a working group and document how your two different implementations work great together
  4. Write a Draft-Standard RFC
  5. Write a mail rule to redirect flames to /dev/null
  6. Reword your Draft Standard and write a Proposed-Standard RFC
  7. Empty /dev/null which overflows from all the flames that were dumped into it
  8. ???
  9. Wait until your Proposed-Standard is upgraded to Internet-Standard status.
  10. Profit ! (not)

    So you won't get rich, but you'll get famous !
    Well, not exactly famous, but lots of people will have heard of you. And they'll hate you. So it's a bit like being rich. Just without the money.

1st (-1, Offtopic)

freewaybear (906222) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829913)

first post?

Re:1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830081)

BURN!

Your carma that is.
ha! ha!

angling for those IBM ad dollars, eh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13829926)

Lots of linking to boring IBM DeveloperWorks articles requiring registration. Slashvertisements at their best!

Re:angling for those IBM ad dollars, eh? (2, Funny)

SoSueMe (263478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830433)

"IBM DeveloperWorks articles requiring registration"

Huh?
The article was not a reg req offering.

Whatever you're smokin', pass it 'round.

Sticking to an old standard (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13829938)

So if most people don't like to welcome the new guy


I, for one, welcome the new guy!

Re:Sticking to an old standard (3, Funny)

MrDrBob (851356) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830512)

You must be new here.

Sometimes... (5, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829947)

Getting a product to market with a new technology can advance the adoption of a standard.

Chicken, meet egg.

Of course it's a gamble...
but that's one way to make the big money.

Re:Sometimes... (3, Insightful)

Myu (823582) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830012)

Getting a product to market with a new technology can advance the adoption of a standard.

It is, arguably, the only way to advance it. No matter how efficient a standard is at its job, it doesn't become "Standard" until successful implementation.

Re:Sometimes... (0, Troll)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831258)

Or a nice big lawsuit (sony v. betamax)

Re:Sometimes... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830018)

Reptiles lay eggs too. And some mammals, too.

Re:Sometimes... (1)

cei (107343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830095)

Yes, but it has also been argued that many reptiles taste like, you guessed it, chicken.

Re:Sometimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832177)

Reptiles lay eggs too. And some mammals, too.

Um really? Which ones? I know some marsupials lay eggs but I didn't think they were considered mammals.

Re:Sometimes... (1)

QuesarVII (904243) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832351)

Saying "some" would imply more than one. The only egg laying mammal (at least known) is the Platypus - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus [wikipedia.org]

Re:Sometimes... (1)

spuzzzzzzz (807185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832428)

There are 5 known species of egg-laying mammals: the platypus and 4 species of the echidna family. All egg-laying mammals are members of the monotreme [wikipedia.org] order.

Marsupials are completely different; no marsupials lay eggs.

Re:Sometimes... (1)

lupinstel (792700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830265)

I think you meant "Egg, meet chicken". Since the egg came first and all. Or..wait.

Re:Sometimes... (2, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832383)

Getting a product to market with a new technology can advance the adoption of a standard.

This is true not only for standards that spend years wallowing through standards boards - someone releases an implementation, and it lights a fire under their asses to get something out the door - but also by creating de facto standards that advance the state of the art. Most of the innovations didn't come from large and wide standards bodies, but rather by a couple of people who did something that was adopted and spread. To bring up an evil example, AJAX is founded on a completely proprietary piece of COM functionality accessible via scripting in Internet Explorer. Pretty soon it became a part of the standard.

Coincidentally I wrote about this [yafla.com] yesterday.

Examples (5, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829949)

For one example of pitfalls and perks, consider stylesheets. Netscape threw their weight behind JSSS, Internet Explorer threw their weight behind CSS. CSS got taken up by the W3C, JSSS got chucked. Internet Explorer 3 was first with CSS support, Netscape 3 had none, and Netscape 4's CSS support was an abysmal wrapper around JSSS.

Another example is XSLT; Microsoft implemented a draft version, and ended up with support that was incompatible with the final specification and later versions of their own browser.

Of course, who was first doesn't matter in the long run. What matters is an ongoing commitment to conformance - being first with partial support means nothing if you do as Microsoft did with CSS and forget to implement the rest for years.

Re:Examples (2, Interesting)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830305)

Maybe Microsoft learned their lesson and isn't being quick to adopt the Open Office file format until it's been established with clear customer demand?

Re:Examples (3, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830368)

"Established with clear customer demand" is not the same thing as being published as a completed specification. The OpenDocument format has already been published as a completed specification, so it's an entirely different situation to implementing an unfinished specification.

Note that the OpenOffice document format is the older, discontinued format; OpenDocument is the newer, standardised format.

Re:Examples (3, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830912)

I was going to moderate this thread, but there's no 'factually incorrect' rating available, let alone 're-writing history', so I'll have to reply instead....

"For one example of pitfalls and perks, consider stylesheets. Netscape threw their weight behind JSSS, Internet Explorer threw their weight behind CSS. CSS got taken up by the W3C, JSSS got chucked."

Several corrections:

  1. Microsoft did *not* throw its weight behind CSS as a standard - they openly espoused 'extending' it with proprietary attributes and behaviours. HTML 4 and CSS 1 are the first examples of MS' 'embrace and extend' lock-in tactic. To characterise this as anything other than subversion of the standardisation process is disingenuous at best.
  2. IE 3's CSS implementation was so broken that people resorted to relying on its broken Cascade model (the C in CSS) in order to avoid sending any directives to it at all. Google 'dummy-rules.css [google.com] ' for details on this.
  3. CSS did not get 'taken up' by the W3C; it was designed by the W3C. And this was not, as you imply, a result of MS' support. Believe me, CSS did not succeed because of IE, but in spite of it.
  4. MSIE 3 was, IIRC, not the first popular browser to support CSS. I believe that honour goes to Opera.
  5. JSSS did not get chucked so much as it got dropped. It was a pretty transparent ploy on Netscape's part to control the future of the web, and given their experience with Netscape's impositions in the past (including the <blink> abomination) nobody was willing to buy into it. While Netscape may have submitted the JSSS spec as a draft standard to the W3C, it was never officially supported. The W3C has to consider submissions from all of its members - it's a consortium, after all - but a submission should never be construed as support.

"Another example is XSLT; Microsoft implemented a draft version, and ended up with support that was incompatible with the final specification and later versions of their own browser."

To my knowledge, MS has *never* done a clean implementation of any Internet standard where they didn't absolutely have to. While their TCP/IP stack (which was based on the Berkeley implementation) may more or less work as advertised, their web browsers, email software and Internet-related developer tools have always been skewed from the relevant standards.

Micosoft does provide some object lessons in the difference between de facto standards and true standards, but I would hesitate to claim that it ever made any effort to support or adhere to any open standard.

Re:Examples (3, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831244)

Microsoft did *not* throw its weight behind CSS as a standard - they openly espoused 'extending' it with proprietary attributes and behaviours.

Well right off the bat, CSS doesn't have attributes, so you are wrong there. Do you have a cite for the "openly espoused extensions"? And how can you say that it didn't throw its weight behind CSS when it was both the first to implement it and a member of the W3C when they took it on?

IE 3's CSS implementation was so broken that people resorted to relying on its broken Cascade model (the C in CSS) in order to avoid sending any directives to it at all.

What's your point? I already alluded to incomplete implementation, nowhere did I say that Internet Explorer 3's support was complete.

CSS did not get 'taken up' by the W3C; it was designed by the W3C.

Wrong. CSS originated outside of the W3C. The first draft of the CSS specification was written by Håkon Wium Lie and published in 1994. The W3C wasn't even operational until the following year - although it was founded in the same month as the draft was published, it took a while to get up and running.

And this was not, as you imply, a result of MS' support.

You are reading too much into what I am saying if you think I implied that. However, it may be true. From Cascading Style Sheets, designing for the Web, the book about CSS written by the creator of CSS, it states:

The workshop was also an experiment to see if it was possible for W3C to organize events outside the US. Indeed, this turned out to be possible and the workshop was a milestone in ensuring style sheets their rightful place on the Web. Among the participants was Thomas Reardon of Microsoft who pledged support for CSS in upcoming versions of Internet Explorer.

MSIE 3 was, IIRC, not the first popular browser to support CSS. I believe that honour goes to Opera.

You don't recall correctly. From the above cited book:

Had it not been for the browsers, CSS would have remained a lofty proposal of only academic interest. The first commercial browser to support CSS was Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3 which was released in August 1996.

JSSS did not get chucked so much as it got dropped.

Chucked and dropped are synonyms in this context. What distinction are you drawing?

Re:Examples (2, Insightful)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13833484)

I read the first guy's post and I was like "wow he really has some good points." Then I read your post and I was like, "wow, that first guy was an idiot." It really goes to show how far someone can go with a bunch of stuff put together with no factual basis and a bunch of terms from the topics at hand thrown in. I can't believe I didn't catch several of the things you pointed out about his post on my first reading.

Re:Examples (1)

bypedd (922626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831295)

And another example in a sense is UML (Universal Modeling Language). It's not like something else came through and stole UML's thunder, but only betwen 10 and 20% of software developers use modeling consistently at all (from Software Developer magazine, Brian Selic interview).

Standards are a strange beast in this way as sometimes there's no need for a standard in the first place...

Re:Examples (1)

CylanR77 (532552) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831964)

Being that this article came from IBM, some of thir standards flops should be mentioned. Well, at least one of them.

I give you exhibit 1: Micro Channel Architecture [wikipedia.org] , a peripheral bus which was meant to replace dumb 'ol ISA with something smarter, but which ultimately lost out to PCI.

What does it mean to be "standard"? (1, Interesting)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829977)

Assuming a normal distribution on the bell curve, aiming for "standard" is to aim right for the big, juicy middle of the curve. Doesn't that mean you're aiming for average overall?

What does it mean to have or be a "standard"? Average business practices? Average technology? "Average" doesn't sound too bad, but the word "mediocre" sure does. As a business owner, I would hate to have mediocre technology.

When your software is online, running on servers, controlled entirely by you... why go for average or mediocre? Why not be smart about it and go for something simple that bucks the "standard" trend? (SOA comes to mind).

Critical thinking and a complete disregard for standards (especially tech standards driven by corporations with marketing agendas) is useful when creating your own technology. It's the only way to break out of "mediocre".

I could be wrong. Your mileage may vary.

Just include all the "standards" (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830073)

No seriously, You have nearly unlimited code and storage space for your programs in modern PCs. You have intelligent and hard-working programmers. And you have the specifications for the various 'standards'.

  So just code all the 'standards' into your program so that it just fu*king works! , regardless of what is or becomes the 'standard'. Please spare your customers all the BS excuses as to why the program that they bought doesn't function correctly.

Re:Just include all the "standards" (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830353)

"So just code all the 'standards' into your program so that it just fu*king works! , regardless of what is or becomes the 'standard'. Please spare your customers all the BS excuses as to why the program that they bought doesn't function correctly."

Yes, and all developers, even small startups with possibly innovative products, have the resources to code the thousands of lines necessary.

And, of course, apps are only developed for PCs.

Let's make sure we have as much code bloat as possible when bringing new apps to the market.

Hell, for that matter, why can't my toaster, my microwave, my computer and all its peripherals all have two plugs, one for American outlets and one for European outlets? And also, have a huge battery case in case I wanted to string together a bunch of 6-volt batteries?

For that matter, why do we use TCP/IP? Why can't every computer be capable of reading every method of transmitting data via electric pulse?

/sarcasm off

Why would you think that introducing inefficiency would be the best solution?

Re:Just include all the "standards" (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831063)

Yes, and all developers, even small startups with possibly innovative products, have the resources to code the thousands of lines necessary.



Share the code for all the standards. Don't reinvent the wheel. Have each company code one standard and freely share the code with all the rest of the companies.
    This idea that every company hires programmers to write the same functions for the same types of programs is just total nonsense that should have been abandoned in the mid 1980's.

    If there are legal problems, then just set up a subsiduary of the company in a country where you don't have these idiotic legal problems and sell your code from that country.

Re:Just include all the "standards" (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13834270)

I think you've missed the point of an accepted standard. No one wants multiple versions of something that accomplish the same thing equally, much less redundant standards that're inferrior. Do you really want an internet that supports every network protocol ever invented? Even if there were some magic way that all OS's could share protocol stacks just maintaining all that garbage would be a nightmare. As a programmer I certainly don't want to learn how to code to 15 different network protocol APIs. SMTP is the standard email delivery protocol now, and I'm quite glad that all that proprietary garbage all died 10 years ago. If it hadn't simply sending email to your friend with a different ISP probbably wouldn't be possible.

You're right that the size of the code is trivial. What costs is supporting the standard. More standards that accomplish the same thing just adds complexity without giving anything back.

Re:Just include all the "standards" (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13834537)

Yuo're still dealing with unnecessary bloat. It doesn't make any sense to have to insert code to deal with a dozen formats for data, or to create conversion utilities.

The whole point of a standard is to increase efficiency by eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel.

What you are talking about is not standards at all. Have each company create its own standard, and then have everyone else implement code to translate their format into the native format used by an app? That's not a standard at all, that's proprietary formats that people happen to share the code for. Every time you have a new company, you'd need to go back and insert new code into your post-market software.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (2, Informative)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830102)

Wrong standard [reference.com] .

That's like comparing being a karma whore to to posting in English. Yes there's some grey area with technology standards since we do choose among new ones but it's still not the same.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830212)

Assuming a normal distribution on the bell curve, aiming for "standard" is to aim right for the big, juicy middle of the curve. Doesn't that mean you're aiming for average overall?

No. Did you read the article, and understand any of it? If you did, maybe you'd understand what is meant by "standard."

A standard, in this context, is not a statistical point or distribution of points that falls on a bell curve. It is not the "average" level of quality, it's not even a measurement of quality. It is, instead, a set of criteria that is generally accepted by consensus of the community. Typically, this is to allow interoperability and product substitution capacity, and is necessary for consumer adoption of new technology.

Look at Betamax vs. VHS, for example. Would it do you any good, as a movie distributor, to create a new standard for videocassette content delivery that is better than Betamax or VHS? Because VHS is only "average"?

To take that a step further, say you are developing what you hope to be the next "standard" for in-home movie content delivery, the Laserdisc. Would it make sense for you to develop an entirely new interface between the TV and your device, when most of your potential customers already have televisions that have coaxial cable connectors?

Standard != average. Standard = used by the majority.

I used the word correctly (1)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830337)

A new "standard" is to make everything into a Service Oriented Architecture. XML is the new standard for everything from communication and messaging, to remote procedure calls, to application configuration.

Microsoft integrated XML pretty deep into .NET, so naturally they are trumpeting the usefulness of the XML standard and SOA. Have you noticed they sell tools? Have you noticed the implementations for SOA are so difficult that you need tools to create it? ($$$ for VS.NET, just to add [WebMethod] to a C# class)

All this hype about Ajax is great, but too many people are drinking the koolaid, exposing xml web services, and actually parsing XML in the client. Have you actually tried parsing xml using xmlHttpRequest? It's painful. Javascript Object Notation (www.json.org) is 100x simpler to use... and it just so happens to be a language feature of Javascript and Python. It's code AND data. XML is just data and a bitch to parse. This is just one little example of people not thinking critically and swallowing -- hook, line, and sinker -- whatever is marketed at them.

That is what you get when you have average developers of average ability following the average standard.

Again, I could be entirely wrong. Your mileage may vary. I find that simple solutions are always the best ones, despite whatever marketing hype you hear about a standard from MS, Sun, Oracle, or anyone else.

Re:I used the word correctly (1)

mwfunk (807792) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830463)

No, you're still not using the word correctly. Javascript Object Notation is also a standard, as evidenced by the fact that you can go to www.json.org and read a complete description it. You're using the term 'standard' as in 'standard practices' or 'standard operating procedure', where 'standard' means 'common' or 'widespread'. This is about 'standard' as in 'a public specification'.

Take the network protocol used for Windows filesharing. In the sense that you're using the term, that's a standard, by virtue of the fact that 90+% of the PCs in the world have support for it. In the sense used in the article (and the discussion), it's totally nonstandard. The Samba project had to reverse-engineer much of it, and continues to do so.

Re:I used the word correctly (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830470)

I understand what you are saying, that adhering to a standard stifles innovation, or causes people to waste resources by working with that standard if it's not optimal.

Sure, sometimes the standard is not the best option available. Look at Betamax and VHS -- most experts now would agree that Betamax was a better format than VHS. However, because more people adopted VHS, the video publishers (which equate to developers, here) published their content solely in VHS after a while -- it became the standard.

"That is what you get when you have average developers of average ability following the average standard.""

But we are talking about the noun, standard. Not the adjective.

The article isn't talking about the average developer of average ability. Nor is it possible to have an average standard -- standard is a binary variable.

Something is the/a standard, or it is not.

Re:I used the word correctly (2, Interesting)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831128)

Actually, you used the word ambiguously. In fact you seem to be trying to deliberately conflate two different usages of "standard"; one meaning "commonplace", the other refering to an agreed protocol to allow interoperability.

Microsoft integrated XML pretty deep into .NET, so naturally they are trumpeting the usefulness of the XML standard and SOA

Oooh... Microsoft! Funny thing about Microsoft, but they suffered a major setback recently. Seems that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts opted for an independantly defined open standard that everyone can use freely, rather than the Microsoft offering which was loaded up with licences and patents and which they could change at will and without consultation. I gather Microsoft were not happy about that. Chairs were thrown, I have no doubt.

Oddly enough, that was about SOAs (Service Oriented Architectures) as well. I know this is a crazy idea, but I expect Microsoft would be purely delighted if everyone ignored the Open Document standard and went on to express their individuality by buying whatever de-facto standard Microsoft might subsequently announce. But then you used lots of dollar signs when talking about VB.NET so I guess you can't really be a Redmond shill. And to think, you nearly had me fooled.

Again, I could be entirely wrong. Your mileage may vary.

Yes, I think it probably will, and I think you probably are. I think people understand perfectly well that open standards means increased competition, and that competition means better products and better value for money.

Certainly, there's only one way to find out. Personally, I'm rather looking forward to it.

Re:I used the word correctly (1)

zurtle (785688) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831406)

I totally agree with you. I find XML tedious, boring, terrible to look at, and can't understand why people cum in their pants at its mention.

Having said that, it's cheaper than porn, so perhaps it isn't so bad.

Re:I used the word correctly (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831460)

I think I get what you're saying. A dodgy standard can be a pain in the arse, especially if everyone does the sheep thing and follows it.

Problem is that at a certain point of technological maturity a standard really is necessary, otherwise you get vendor lockin and all the associated grief. However, if the standard is formalised much before that time it won't be able to keep up with a still-high change, and probably won't be much good. The trick is either waiting til the right moment or being willing to modify the standard later.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830250)

Assuming a normal distribution on the bell curve, aiming for "standard" is to aim right for the big, juicy middle of the curve. Doesn't that mean you're aiming for average overall?

No, it means you are aiming for compatability, marketability, supportablity, and - depending the standard - the best way of doing things with current technology.

What does it mean to have or be a "standard"? Average business practices? Average technology? "Average" doesn't sound too bad, but the word "mediocre" sure does. As a business owner, I would hate to have mediocre technology.

Replace the word "average" with "agreed upon by the greater consensus" and you've got it.

When your software is online, running on servers, controlled entirely by you... why go for average or mediocre? Why not be smart about it and go for something simple that bucks the "standard" trend? (SOA comes to mind).

Because if you are ignoring standards your customers might not want the product, your employees might not understand the product, and nobody will care that it is simpler than the standard because they know the standard.

Critical thinking and a complete disregard for standards (especially tech standards driven by corporations with marketing agendas) is useful when creating your own technology.

Critical thinking and a complete disregard are mutually exclusive. If you are completely disregarding the standard, you are probably reinventing the wheel.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830323)

The different from Standards and Mediocre, is that standards are most widely used. It is basically how a business man protects themselves from making bad IT decisions. So if something is standard and the technology fails to do what he wants he just points to all the other people who are successful using it to show that he didn't make a bad decision. Mediocre just means it works well enough for what it is Does, in terms of the the Standard Deviation Curve Mediocre falls 1 to 2 deviation away from average goodness. A standard could be really good hence why most people use it. Or a standard could be average because it works for most people not as good as something else but there isn't to many negative tradeoffs, or a standard is bad but because everyone uses it you just kinda have to live with it. While Mediocre is just one level of quality. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830401)

> Assuming a normal distribution on the bell curve, aiming for "standard" is to aim right for the big, juicy middle of the curve. Doesn't that mean you're aiming for average overall?

Yes, it does.

Old IT saying:
The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

dasil003 (907363) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830539)

When your software is online, running on servers, controlled entirely by you... why go for average or mediocre? Why not be smart about it and go for something simple that bucks the "standard" trend? (SOA comes to mind).

If you have a compelling reason to do so, and it's core to your business then by all means go for it.

However, in general 'standards' are about fairly low-level base technologies. On top of that have higher level business logic / custom stuff for which there is no reasonable standard. Then on the very top you have the actual business practices. To succeed spectacularly in business you need to be thinking about those top-level business practices and how you can differentiate yourself that way.

In other words, it's not the technology, but what you do with it that counts. Standards are neither here nor there.

I could be wrong. Your mileage may vary.

Bah! I can't leave two of these wishy-washy sentences closing our your post alone. Either wait for someone to tell you you're wrong or just don't post. It's your story and you're sticking to it goddammit.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830557)

Like you said, depends on what you mean by "standard".

Look at web standards. They are useful because they encourage good coding practices and maintainability. Some people hate it when others throw around terms like "w3c standards" but having worked on projects that used standards and some that did not, I can tell you web standards are a good thing. In this case, they do not prevent innovation. Some may say "the w3c is just some organization with no real clout so why pay attention to their standards?" Ok, maybe, but some standard is better than no standard. Even if a standard isn't etched in stone by the finger of God, at least if it comes from a reputable source and is generally accepted it can be good.

Of course, using the same example of web development, a company could have a standard web development methodology (fusebox, nuke, etc). Not saying that methodologies are bad, but these can cause people to think a certain way and only that way. Then is when you are in danger of killing innovation. It sure is a fine line though.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

flynt (248848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830616)

What are you talking about? The word standard has many definitions. One (the one the article is talking about) means something like "a set of rules that software developers adhere to so that different implementations work together." I made this definition up right now, so it may be lacking in some ways. Things that fit this definition of standard include (in my mind) FTP, HTTP, TCP/IP, the C programming language, etc. Now these things which I'm talking about, simply put, have absolutely nothing to do with probability distributions. Probability distributions, roughly speaking, are mathematical ideas used to model outcomes from experiments where there is variability in the outcome. To do this, you need to define a sample space, set up measurable functions on that space, etc. I really don't see how these two ideas get could confused this badly! "What is the probability distribution of an RFC?" really makes no sense!

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832154)

Actually, in the case of TFA, it's pretty clear that "standard" means "something approved by an official standards organization".

That still leaves lots of rooms for ambiguity, of course, as there are over 180 countries on Earth, not to mention international standards bodies.

Then there's the "standard American" definition, as exemplified by all the hardware stores that sell tools and other measurable things in two kinds of sizes: "metric" and "standard". (To people in the rest of the world: No; this is not a joke. They really do that.)

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830656)

What does it mean to have or be a "standard"? Average business practices? Average technology? "Average" doesn't sound too bad, but the word "mediocre" sure does. As a business owner, I would hate to have mediocre technology.

There are so many misunderstandings and clueless leaps in this paragraph it's almost impossible to know where to begin. But how about here: you don't understand what the word standard means in this context. But that's okay, because by choosing to avoid mediocre standards like the English language your business is sure to succeed.

Historic Meaning (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830763)

The "standard" was the banner your army flew on a battlefield. Rallying around a standard meant literally doing just that - going to where your banner flew. The "standard" was not the average or the norm, it was simply a statement of being. Normally, if anything, it would be at the front of the field, leading the way. Standard-bearers tended not to have long lifespans, in those days.


However, that is the model I believe standards should follow today: "This is the point you should be reaching now", not "This is the point you should have reached last year". By this argument, standards should ALWAYS be ahead of the game - describing how to make best use of new ideas and new approaches - and should be discarded as a description of the mediocre and pitiful.


Do the standard-bearers of the past proud, and let's use standards to define the charge of technology. The ones who are stationary are not the ones who need a standard to guide them. The ones who don't care where they are are not the ones at risk of getting lost. Let standards retake their rightful place on the field - at the front.

Re:What does it mean to be "standard"? (1)

SamSim (630795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831034)

I believe you're confusing "standard" in the sense of "regular" or "average" with "standard" in the sense of "benchmark" or "target".

The great thing about standards (4, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#13829992)

Stolen quote: The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

The great thing about standards (2, Funny)

evil-osm (203438) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830217)

...everyone has their own

Re:The great thing about standards (1)

Dante Shamest (813622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830228)

Standards? Don't you mean women?

lets see (3, Funny)

mayhemt (915489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830000)

lets see if we can /. IBM...

Early adoption = Smart career move (1, Redundant)

mgdupont (839180) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830008)

"...why would they put all their eggs in a standards basket when that basket might not exist tomorrow?"
Two words: "job security". Who else is gonna migrate all that data?

Good Quote! (3, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830086)

"Great minds think alike; hurried developers make similar mistakes."

Slashdot should adopt a standard.... (2, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830152)

.... To make sure that Zonk doesn't post dupes.

Re:Slashdot should adopt a standard.... (1)

sinewalker (686056) | more than 8 years ago | (#13831361)

I would say the repeated application by Zonk of dupes constitutes a standard of sorts... just a poor one.

Re:Slashdot should adopt a standard.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13839771)

I've submitted a draft of the Document Uniqueness Protocol. For details, read ietf.wtf.rtf.

Overheard conversation (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830157)

Little Red: why would they put all their eggs in a standards basket?
Big Bad Wolf: Heh.. Eggs??? Basket??? I didn't see anything... but why not?
Little Red: Even when that basket might not exist tomorrow?
Big Bad Wolf: *nervous laughter* Why would you think your basket would be missing tomorrow!?!?!?

ANSI Guy - "I So wanna be a standard" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830167)

Intellectual Embracing the concept Expands ...

U'L have to do better than that!

It's getting kinda drafty in here!

Take a number and pass the FAQ.

Exactly how does one... (3, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830201)

"adopt a standard before it becomes one?"

Is that like going to McDonald's, ordering a Chicken Sandwich, and getting an Egg McMuffin?

More like... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830677)

...buying a Steak Egg and Cheese Bagel, then buying another one in a few months and realizing they added unwanted mayonnaise.* I also hope the W3C, etc. do have upcoming Recommendations/standards/wtf-they-call-'em, they check over them to prevent any errata that could give Microsoft (further) implementation legroom ("IE6 and IE7 reserve white space for [an] empty legend tag. The HTML 4.01 spec does not specify what should happen in this case.") [msdn.com] . (said HTML 4.01 spec) [w3.org]

*Disclaimer: This actually happened to me; remind me not to get another #7 for breakfast.**

**Disclaimer disclaimer: I love [mcdonalds.com] their other artery-blockers so much, and have so little hard feelings about said bagel, that I just linked to them with a nice word.

RS-232 (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830231)

Many people adopted that "standard" long before it became EIA-232 (now TIA-232, I believe).

Adoption that makes things become standard. Not the other way around. At most, all you do is create a "recommended standard", which is interestingly what the RS stood for in that famous 25-pin bus.

Once in a while, it works (4, Interesting)

Webmoth (75878) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830236)

One well-adopted "standard" (which isn't a standard at all) is ID3 [id3.org] (and its successor, ID3V2), the standard for tagging files with metadata.

The interesting thing here is that it is as standard proposed and written in the spirit of Open Source -- its development is moderated by a core group of loosely-knit volunteers, and anyone can contribute to the discussion.

It has been adopted by practically every developer -- commercial, open source, Joe-in-Basement, etc. -- of multimedia software, even Microsoft.

No standards body (IEEE, IETF, ISO, NIST, W3C, IANA, etc.) has accepted it as a standard; to my knowledge it has never been submitted to any organization as a proposed standard.

By community involvement and acceptance, it has become a de facto standard, and for the most part everyone plays by the rules.

Re:Once in a while, it works (1)

SoSueMe (263478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830610)

'...a de facto standard..."

Man, do I hate that phrase.
I've had bad experiences with it since Office 97 came out and was such a bloated POS that produced files that crashed Office 95 so bad that the organization just buckled and "upgraded".
Why? Certainly not because it was vital to upgrade. It was just to move to the "de facto standard".

I think MA is on the right track.

Re:Once in a while, it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830622)

I'm sorry, ID3 is a terrible example. ID3v2 has come a long way, but the original ID3 spec is a hack whipped up by a kid in his basement who apparently was unware that not everyone in the world speaks a Western European language.

Certainly a committee would have produced an overcomplicated solution to the same problem (it may have even looked a lot like ID3v2), but at least that would have that one simple thing right.

Re:Once in a while, it works (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832175)

mind you the original standard for embedding text in pngs screwed that one up too (there is a new later chunk type for unicode text but the original chunks were for ISO-8859-1 text)

ofc you could make the argument that if you wan't a standard way of tagging files you wan't to encourage people to use a standard language so the tags can be as widely understood as possible but i won't go there ;).

Re:Once in a while, it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13833743)

At the time they were making the PNG standard, they deliberately decided to do this. Basically, they felt that Unicode would have made PNG too hard to implement. And, in 1995, Unicode was basically a thing for the future.

Re:Once in a while, it works (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13836058)

yes fully implementing unicode is extremely hard (very few if any systems cand handle every single valid unicode code point correctly)

however i seriously dispute the idea that using a unciode encoding as the on-disk format would have made png much harder to implement utf-816 bit unicode (i suspect 1995 way pre supplementry planes) is pretty trivial and mapping a subset of those unicode characters to whatever your native platform can handle isn't exactly difficult either. ofc they may have done it to try and push the use of western languages and used the compleixty argument as a cover story.

btw at least one major platform (winnt) was i'm pretty sure already natively unicode in 1995.

Re:Once in a while, it works (2, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832299)

I'm still waiting for someone to invent IDX--an XML-based ID3 tag. I *hate* having...
a million albums by Stevie Wonder
a million albums by Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder - Ebony and Ivory
why can't I just specify more than one artist for a song and have it show up under each separately? (Especially since so many duets are not made by people who sing together often.) First of all, it's a pain because I never know, for example, if I should scroll to P or S for that particular song. Secondly, it's a waste to have an extra entry just for that one song.

A similar problem comes with hip-hop acts. Will Smith did not record "Summertime." The Fresh prince did not record "Miami." With so many artists changing names, changing bands, etc., it'd be nice to have them all unified, so I could scroll to any identity and see all songs.

I should have said it's more prevelant with hip-hop acts. Quick, who rcorded "I Can't Dance"--Phil Collins or Genesis? Sting, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Peter Cetera, Steve Perry... the list goes on.

Re:Once in a while, it works (2, Funny)

G-funk (22712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832755)

I understand.... I'd be upset if my music collection was full of Paul McCartney too.

Music ID tags (Yea, OT, an On-T reply to parent) (2, Insightful)

Keybounce (226364) | more than 8 years ago | (#13838822)

It sounds like you are really looking for a relational DB format of ID tagging.

A song can have many authors.
An author can have many names
An author can have many songs
A name can have many authors

You need a many-many for song/artist, for artist/name, for name/artist ("Monkeys", for example, may not mean the same people today as it used to), etc.

In fact, you'll have many/many tables EVERYWHERE in a really complete system, and you're going to want some way to transfer information from one DB to another DB maintaining the same many/many intermediate information as you transfer across DB's ...

> Secondly, it's a waste to have an extra entry just for that one song.

You will wind up having to use a lot of UUID's in pairs for each table entry, and you'll have a lot of those entries. Last time I checked, generating a UUID took 16 bytes, so each line of each many/many table is a 32 byte entry, and each song will trigger many many/many entries.

Were you trying to save space somehow?

Re:Music ID tags (Yea, OT, an On-T reply to parent (1)

Keybounce (226364) | more than 8 years ago | (#13838874)

Bah, I should not try to make database posts without a little p-coding as well.

Ultimately, you're developing a distributed relational DB. Either you need to refer all new additions through a uniquing site (which will prevent duplication, and eliminate the need for large UUID's all over the place), or you'll need to have a way to unique duplications together at each end (which is yet more tables for recombining entries).

Alright, I admit it: My RDBM experience is primarily non distributed; where it is distributed, each client is working on their own area at a time and using a global checkout model. Someone who knows distributed mass updating RDMBs can give you a real working solution to the music ID tags, and make it a viable standard.

Re:Once in a while, it works (1)

bedessen (411686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13851766)

Are you f*cking kidding me? Ask anyone that has ever had to write software for reading and writing mp3 tags (and not just utilizing someone else's id3 tag library) and they will tell you that it is a cess pool of pain.

The original ID3 tag format (v1) was HORRIBLE:
- Artist/Title fields limited to 30 characters.
- The genre was just a fixed number, an index into a list. This meant that everyone had to agree that 136 is "Christian gangsa rap". This list of genres is done differently by various programs, which means that you really can't reliably use anything but the most common genres like "Rock" that everyone agrees on.
- The tag is at the END of the file, so if you are streaming or downloading the file the tag is the very last thing you get.

ID3v1 was a quick and dirty hack made by one person (Eric Kemp) that has a ton of serious problems but since there was nothing better it caught on.

But, people realized that ID3v1 sucks so badly, so they made a whole new standard for tags called ID3v2. This format is the complete opposite: it is intricate and extraordinarily complex to read and parse. It has issues with character encoding (1252 or UTF-8?) so god help you if you have a track name with an accented character. These issues were only really addressed in the later versions of the standard, but hardly any software supports that version. Delightful.

On top of that, because ID3v1 and v2 are completely seperate, it means that they can contain different things and you have to keep both of them in sync. Some software only reads v1, some only writes v2 leaving the v1 tags blank. Some software writes both but only reads one. And because of the above issues of the 30 character limit and the genre issue, it can be impossible to "roundtrip" data between the two so sometimes it's impossible to keep them in sync.

This all ends up meaning that the state of tag technology is just a giant cess pool. You end up with stuff like iTunes that just stores all the metadata in an external database. The fact that mp3 tags work AT ALL is a miracle.

If someone had sat down FRIST and THOUGHT about how to write a tag format and wrote a sensible and practical standard to begin with, it would have eliminated a ton of pain. But instead it's a giant house of cards built on hacks, limitations, and bad design. Mp3 tags are a perfect example of how "de facto" standards can really make programmers' lives terrible. It is almost the poster child argument for why standards bodies are GOOD and SERVE A PURPOSE.

Standard Troll (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830238)

In Korea only old people follow standards!

Re:Standard Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13830417)

In Russia, Standards follow you.

Anyone remember G.Lite modems? (1)

sgtboost (915361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830507)

It was going to be a new standard about 5-6 years ago...and that technology never came about.

Re:Anyone remember G.Lite modems? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832208)

according to wikipedia G.lite is the standard they use for adsl in australia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITU_G.992.2 [wikipedia.org]

from what i remember its big advantage was it was designed to avoid the need for special filters between the phone line and any phones. Its big disadvantage is in the maximum possible speed.

here in the u.k. all our adsl is g.dmt and most people use plug in filters and fit a seperate one for every phone (this isn't always the neatest method of installation but its simple enough that any moron can do it).

chance to contribute (1)

justdev (721467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13830517)

When something new comes out, there will be a tendency to ignore it and watch it out of the corner of the eye to see if it goes away. Once something grows in size and complexity, it looks intimidating to get into. That disadvantage can be avoided by getting in early.

A new idea can sometimes be extended and new avenues of use can be found. Early adopters may get a chance to become innovators too that way.

You insensitive cLlod! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832074)

standpoint, I don't came as a complete be any fucking chaanel, you might

C ... (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832190)

I used one important thing for at least a decade before the standard came out: the C language. And I've never regretted it.

Funny thing was that when ANSI C finally came into existence, there was hardly any of my old K&R code that didn't work. I just casually ignored the warning messages, until I got around to inserting the type-cast noise (all the while grumbling about idiotic compilers that obviously knew how to do it, just as the old compilers had ;-).

I did like the addition of // for comments, though.

Anyone else find these articles so vague that.... (1)

sarkeizen (106737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832229)

...they border on useless?

For example, the principle taken from the first section: Users want products that work but early adopters are willing to cut slack in some areas but not in others. Can that be responded to with much other than "Duh!"?

Not at all one of Peter's better articles.
 

Simple. (1)

Martin Spamer (244245) | more than 8 years ago | (#13838448)

"Whether a standard will succeed and be widely adopted is ambiguous ... why would they put all their eggs in a standards basket when that basket might not exist tomorrow?"

The reward of first mover advantage is worth the risk.
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