Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Problems at the W3C

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the family-feud dept.

303

dustin writes "Public outcry against the workings of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is growing. On Sunday, Björn Höhrmann announced his departure in a lengthy critique of problems at the W3C. Web standards champion Zeldman adds his comments as well: 'Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers.'"

cancel ×

303 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

First Post! (0, Troll)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738864)

This first post is XHTML complaint!

What? It seems relevant ;)

Re:First Post! (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739201)

There's no mention on the W3C website that Slashdot moderators are XHTML complaint. Thus, your first post is not XHTML complaint. :P

Re:First Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739339)

CSS and SVG should have been enough to close W3C for the next 3,000 years and detain all people involved in these incredibly fucked-up "standards". (In the case of SVG, I suspect that the W3C-members Adobe and Microsoft created a bloated, horrid mess to allow their own formats to gain more traction. CSS was just done by clueless assholes.)

Possible solution? (5, Interesting)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738874)

Maybe a non-profit organization of independent web developers could be formed (perhaps already exists?) that could obtain membership on their behalf?

Why not the IETF? (2, Insightful)

Skynet (37427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738912)

Seems like the logical place to me.

Re:Why not the IETF? (4, Informative)

Pneuma ROCKS (906002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739117)

Actually, there already exists such an organization: the WHATWG [whatwg.org] . It was created by browser developers including Opera, Mozilla and the makers of Safari. They have released several specifications, some of which have already been implemented into the browsers. For instance, the canvas element, and SessionStorage, which is included in the upcoming Firefox 2.

Quite frankly I prefer the idea of a single standards organization, in this case the W3C. It's more sensible to find ways to make this organization more flexible and open than to start having competing standards and the unavoidable incompatibilities. But sometimes there is no alternative than radical change. I hope it doesn't come down to this.

Re:Why not the IETF? (4, Informative)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739177)

Note that the WHATWG doesn't have membership in the W3C, which is what the grandparent was suggesting.

Re:Possible solution? (1)

Enrico Pulatzo (536675) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738913)

Fight fire with fire? Nah, that won't float around here :)

Seriously, though, good call.

Re:Possible solution? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738932)

As I understood Hoehrmann's message, his complaint is insufficient budget for full-time developers and testers, and to keep the validator running.

Wrong Problem (4, Insightful)

ichin4 (878990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738956)

The summary mis-represents the bulk of Bjoern's critique, which less about the lack of non-corporate participation and more about the fact that the organization just doesn't work.

I wonder how the bulk of slashdotters, for whom a W3C standard seems to be a sacred cow, will react to the message that these standards are all-too-often ambiguous, bone-headed, poorly supported, slow-moving, and lacking important features.

Re:Wrong Problem (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15738991)

Standards aren't a sacred cow here -- they're just a convienent cudgel to bash Internet Explorer with.

Suggest that Linux fails to meet UNIX specifications, for example, and watch the apologies flow in.

Re:Wrong Problem (4, Funny)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739105)

We're very, very sorry.

Re:Wrong Problem (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739349)

Yes I don't think it can be stressed enough how very upset we are by this unfortunate development.

We're doing our best to remedy the situation as we speak. Please excuse our dust while we renovate!

Re:Wrong Problem (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739181)

Suggest that Linux fails to meet UNIX specifications, for example, and watch the apologies flow in.

I haven't seen that one happen yet, especially since Linux doesn't purport to be UNIX(tm) (though it is Unix.)

Start telling people it's not POSIX, though, and they'll argue.

Re:Wrong Problem (1, Informative)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739313)

Jesus H, anybody who knows anything knows that Linux is not UNIX, and nobody besides a few noobs has ever suggested that Linux was UNIX. At best, it's a mix of SystemV and Berkley UNIX-like features, but guess what, it doesn't make a lick of difference. What! Shock? Horror? No, as you pointed out with your careful choice of words, UNIX is a specification -NOT- a standard. That's a very crucial distinction. Standards are meant for ***interoperability***. Standards are what allows that precious IE of yours to work with the Apache web server. Hell, it's what allows Window's TCPIP stack to work on the internet. On the other hand a specification, is about ***portability***, NOT interoperability. Conform to a specification, and you can be pretty well ensured of portability. People bash IE because MS constantly tries to violate standards. If MS used IE to comply with standards, rather than subvert them, but failed to make IE conform to, say the Mozilla XUL specification, then you'd have a valid point.

Re:Wrong Problem (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739185)

I wonder how the bulk of slashdotters, for whom a W3C standard seems to be a sacred cow, will react to the message that these standards are all-too-often ambiguous, bone-headed, poorly supported, slow-moving, and lacking important features.

I think you're being a little unfair there. There are some highly vocal, pro-W3C zealots around, but there are also some of us who have always argued that any sort of formal specification is merely a means to an end, and should be used if (and only if) that end is desirable under the circumstances.

In web design, if you want maximum portability, you follow W3C standards for all the smaller browsers, and then provide suitable hacks for the big one. OTOH, if you just want to reach most of the general public and don't want to chase diminishing returns much, targetting IE is the obvious choice, since it is the only relevant standard (albeit a de facto one) in this context, and your pages will still mostly work on other browsers (or get their users to switch back temporarily to IE) anyway.

Similarly for corporate intranets, some people bitch about how dangerous ActiveX is and yada yada yada, but the fact remains that it's a practical tool to solve a problem. Users complaining that "better" browsers like Firefox don't support it is going to cut exactly zero ice with any corporate management/IT.

IME, posts pointing this sort of thing out are frequently modded both Insightful and Troll/Flamebait several times, usually more + than -. Thus it seems rather unfair to characterise "the bulk of slashdotters" as being semi-religious W3C devotees. The majority of posters in certain discussions perhaps, but apparently not the majority of mods, and we'll never know about the lurkers or those who do post but are sensible enough to avoid religious topics.

Re:Possible solution? (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739104)

Why not take this further and replace the W3C altogether? It obviously doesn't work long-term, so replace it with something that will. A non-profit organization with a focus on development and maintenance of web standards. I think if you can get Opera and Mozilla on board, then I think Microsoft will be forced to follow.

Is the W3C itself that important?

Re:Possible solution? (4, Insightful)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739149)

"A non-profit organization with a focus on development and maintenance of web standards" is exactly what W3C staff think the W3C is. What would prevent the staff of a new organisation from ending up in the same state?

Re:Possible solution? NO (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739449)

this accepts the premise that people shuold be competing with companies, and in this the people will always lose.

people need to STOP assuming that companies have the best interests of regular people in mind - it is not the case.

simply stop supporting w3c and build a new system. let the governement try and stop the people again

I never understood.. (3, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738898)

I never understood why web standards aren't maintained by the folks that actually are writing the browsers. Membership would require a browser with, say, x% market share.

This would seem to be a slam dunk to me. I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

Might. Anyway, it'd be better than having some extra organization making up rules that none of them really pay more than a passing look at.

Re:I never understood.. (4, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738928)

figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.


That sounds great in theory, but what would probably happen in reality is that Microsoft would end up writing the standard, and adding proprietary, patented extensions onto it in order to ensure permanent dominance for Internet Explorer.

I would much rather have a somewhat supported open standard, rather than having a closed standard perfectly supported by one company.

Re:I never understood.. (2, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739110)

Uhhh... think... hmmm.. thing some more...

Nope.. I just can't seem to put the pieces together here. If Microsoft writes things into the standard, how could they be extensions? How could they be proprietary?

What were you trying to say?

Re:I never understood.. (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739318)

How could they be proprietary?

By being patented. Proprietary software is essentially the only development model that's compatible with patents.

And of course standards controlled by Microsoft would most likely be covered by MS patents. Why wouldn't they be?

Re:I never understood.. (2, Interesting)

fotoflojoe (982885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739147)

That sounds great in theory, but what would probably happen in reality is that Microsoft would end up writing the standard, and adding proprietary, patented extensions onto it in order to ensure permanent dominance for Internet Explorer.
Agreed.
A scenario like what the GP suggests would create a 'fox guarding the hen house' kind of situation.

Re:I never understood.. (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739280)

I don't think that's an acurate analogy. I think having MS, FF, OP developing standards would be more along the lines of having a coop of farmers guarding the hen house, as opposed to having an independat group of part time hobby farmers (W3C) trying to raise the chickens.

-Rick

Nah.. (1)

vancondo (986849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739153)

I wouldn't really worry about that. The fact is that we have more to fear from the bungling of the incompetent than from the machinations of the wicked.

Re:I never understood.. (4, Interesting)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739205)

Actually Microsoft take part in several working groups, most notably the CSS working group, and seem to do so in good faith. They play by our extension rules, they are making attempts at fixing their standards compliance bugs, etc. I'm not saying they're perfect, but ever since Firefox showed them their market share wasn't guaranteed, they've become active again and have been acting as reasonably as the other major browser vendors.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

codemaster2b (901536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739238)

Close. Actually, Microsoft would never write the standard. There would be no standard. Let me think... that's exactly the way it is right now!

Microsoft is non-standard. Period. That is how they maintain a monopoly.

I would rather have a standard that stayed put long enough to actually become a standard. Sure, Microsoft is never going to implement it, but I wish it would stay put so everyone else could. Do you hear me WC3?

Many such efforts at W3C, Microsoft's weapon. (1)

expro (597113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739248)

Even if Microsoft greatly warps the standard to their own so-called liking, do not expect them to live by them. Their own distortions of the standard become the very things they ridicule in public and use as reasons to reject/violate standards.

More of these desired standards to not occur precisely because to Microsoft it is a weapon, and we wind up working on silly things to displace more-legitimate web standard undertakings. What will SOAP ever do for anyone?

Re:I never understood.. (2, Informative)

Shining Celebi (853093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738948)

Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple are all members of the W3C according to its members [w3.org] page.

Re:I never understood.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15738952)

Membership would require a browser with, say, x% market share.


Wow. That's the perfect way to innovate, because we've seen that market leaders are always the ones who take big risks. Yes, let's close out everyone below certain market share. Promote innovation. Please leave Slashdot now and go back watching "news" from Fox.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739342)

I hate to burst your idealistic bubble, but the fact is that historically most important standards were developed by large corporations.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738990)

That might work if Microsoft had any interest in being standards compliant. They don't want everything to work perfectly in all browsers since being incompatible in some areas helps them retain their monopoly. This is one of the biggest and wealthiest corporations on the planet, if they really wanted to achieve compliance with the current set of standards they have every means to do so. Instead they choose to be way behind and create proprietary extensions that only work on their OS.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739039)

That might work if Microsoft had any interest in being standards compliant.

Being disinterested in browser development is not the same thing as being disinterested in standards compliance.

If you look at IE in the late 90s, for example, what you saw was that they were implementing W3C standards at an emormous rate, blowing Netscape and Opera out of the water, and IE was by far the most standards-compliant browser at the time.

The Standards game always favors the players that invest the most money in development -- If MS wanted to bury Firefox, they could just spend the cash to invent and implement standards at a rate that nobody could keep up with.

The root issue is that MS doesn't see web standards support as an important competitive issue.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739101)

If MS wanted to bury Firefox, they could just spend the cash to invent and implement standards at a rate that nobody could keep up with.

No they couldn't, because they'd have to redevelop MSIE from scratch and forget about backward compatibility with previous IE-only code.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739151)

Even if that was true, IE already supports two modes ('standards' and legacy), so they could do it with the proper application of cash.

Re:I never understood.. (3, Interesting)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739194)

The root issue is that MS doesn't see web standards support as an important competitive issue.

Yet. Once IE7 has shipped with whole bunch of competitive out of the box features, Microsoft has to put it's foot down and start the real work of restoring faith in it's users. Firefox's usage may be low, but i'm sure most of remaining IE userbase must have been feeling *the ripples* even if they aren't aware of Firefox's existance or choose not to use it.

I'm of the opinion that IE7 is just a distraction, a way of catching up superficially to yank on the chains of the competition. Once it's out and the buzz has died down they are going to need that late 90's velocity right back (and they *have* said there will be more frequent updates to IE) otherwise it's going to be a gross waste of time and a huge disappointment.

The question is, will Firefox's (now large) ego survive a battering if MS really ramp it up in IE8 once Vista is out of the box and can Mozilla remain competitive? Personally I hope not, being humbled is good for the thought process.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739293)

I'm of the opinion that IE7 is just a distraction, a way of catching up superficially to yank on the chains of the competition.

I somewhat agree that the IE7 plan makes sense -- from an End User point of view, IE's failings are the lack of Tabs and poor security, so it makes sense to address those first.

99% of End Users could frankly care less about full CSS2 support, because everything is equally possible with tables and a little script. But IE got on top largely because it went after the 'hearts and minds' of developers, so eventually they'll have to get back to that (if they're serious about keeping IE dominant).

Re:I never understood.. (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739031)

I think that they would be too afraid of exposing intelectual property to let this fly. I imagine a coder from each company sitting with his lawyer around a conference table.


Microsoft: "It's a nice day today."
MSFT Lawyer: "That's patent pending, you can't touch it!"

Re:I never understood.. (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739047)

I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

That's not Microsoft's history with standards bodies. They come up with some ideas that rely heavily on their own technology. (Did you know that the first version of XSL used Visual Basic as a transform language?!) When the other participants fail to react with total enthusiasm, they decide that standards are overrated.

To be fair, Netscape in its heyday was just as bad as Microsoft when it came to ignoring standards. But I've long thought that both Microsoft and Netscape would have been more standards compliant if W3C had done something to encourage standards compliance. Like trying to issue standards on a timely basis, instead of just assuming that implementers would sit on their hands until standards were ready. Or like creating standards tests instead of waiting for third parties to do it.

But no, they just shrug their shoulders and keep creating standards that nobody will ever implement. W3C has not been effective for a very long time.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

4pins (858270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739173)

No! With this market share model Microsoft would have been the only one at the table just a few years back. Unless the threshold was very low in which case too many players would be at this table.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739225)

Very few "web standards" have anything to do with "web browsers". Most of them deal with Web Services and business to business standards that piggy back on HTTP.

Re:I never understood.. (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739240)

I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

That's a perfectly reasonable belief. One that, unfortunately, does not correspond to reality. All the major browser developers have been members of the W3C. Microsoft helped write the CSS specifications. Just because an organisation has been involved in designing something, it doesn't mean they are going to support it.

Re:I never understood.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739399)


I never understood why web standards aren't maintained by the folks that actually are writing the browsers. Membership would require a browser with, say, x% market share.

This would seem to be a slam dunk to me. I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

Might. Anyway, it'd be better than having some extra organization making up rules that none of them really pay more than a passing look at.

There's already a standards organization that all the major browser vendors (except Microsoft) are a part of. It's called the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group [whatwg.org] . They've already submitted a specification called Web Forms 2.0 to the W3C. The Web Application Formats Working Group and the Web APIs Working Group within the W3C are largely a response to WHATWG.

Microsoft is supposedly talking to WHATWG, but so far as I can tell, they're not posting anything on the mailing list. In the standards arena, Microsoft is pretty much MIA.

How disappointing (5, Interesting)

billDCat (448249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15738947)

How disappointing to hear this. We area at a time right now when we need standards more than anything. Between the onslaught of AJAX apps, the preponderance of Flash web apps, and the attempt by Microsoft to convert web apps to an extension of Windows with Sparkle and Avalon, we wholeheartedly need strong standards.

Re:How disappointing (4, Insightful)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739125)

Well, just as an outside observer, it seems like the W3C is not very interested in "the web as application platform" -- instead pushing new document models like XHTML2 that don't really solve any realworld app dev problems.

At least from my POV, the stuff going on at WHATWG [whatwg.org] -- such as a vastly improved FORM model and standardized AJAX support -- will have much more relevance to the web in the manner that I and probably most other slashdotters build it.

Puh Leaze (4, Informative)

SafariShane (560870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739000)

I just checked the cost of membership here:

http://www.w3.org/Consortium/fees.php3?country=Uni ted+States&quarter=07-01&year=2006&quarter2=07-01& year2= [w3.org]

Just over 6k. Seriously, 6k per year is not a lot for a company to spend. It's up to the geeks that work there to convince those who hold the purse strings that it's a worthwhile investment.

Re:Puh Leaze (2, Informative)

uchihalush (898615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739042)

Thats 6k only for Profit Free Organizations, its far more expensive for big companies. Though you are correct in that even at 65k/yr, it is pocket change for all large companies

Re:Puh Leaze (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739069)

Good luck with that. 6k is a drop in the bucket when you look at the big picture, but when you look at departmental budgets, it's a different story. Particularly when you're looking at membership fees and dues. Few trade groups charge fees so large, and without a demonstrable impact on the bottom line, or on worker productivity, most controllers I've come across would red-flag and deny that expenditure out-of-hand.

This holds true especially for private companies -- ownership sees that as six grand taken out of their pockets.

Planned Obsolescence (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739009)

This problem is exactly what people predicted back in the mid 1990s, when W3C was formed. I was on the IETF HTTP-WG, and even those of us on various corporate payrolls knew Microsoft's membership in a closed-door W3C membership meant Web standards would go this way.

It's a testament to the basic strength, openness and simplicity of the WWW that the W3C could continue its model for so long without collapsing itself or the Web.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (2, Informative)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739122)

Microsoft have absolutely nothing to do with any of the problems that are listed in the article.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739207)

Except Microsoft helped design W3C this way.

I think DocRuby is suggesting Microsoft designed it this way, so it would only just be usefull in helping them win against the then dominating Netscape, and then fall over and die from bureaucratic bloat.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (3, Insightful)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739312)

Microsoft have no part in the running of the W3C Team. If the W3C Team wanted to fix the problems that Bjoern listed, they would not find Microsoft stopping them. Blaming Microsoft for the W3C's problems is ridiculous Slashdot-flamebaiting.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

supersnail (106701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739465)

To be honest it is probably in the interest of most of the corporate sponsers for the standards process to stick in the bueruecratic mud,
Firstly because an unexpected change to standards plays havoc with your release schedule, and, secondly all those whizzy proprietry bits your customers are locked into would get replaced by a standards based method if the process worked properly.

Havinf said that I think the problem hear is that most of the money is being divied up by large corporations because its a "good thing" and they are not really that interested what happenstothe money. IBM, HP, SUN dont make web browsers any more (and though they do make Web servers they are pretty much legacy apps,)

So you have a bunch of corparations that dont care paying for a stanards org that doesnt listen.

Sounds like its time for the IETF to step in,

Re:Planned Obsolescence (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739219)

Which parts of "corporate paymasters" and "closed-door membership" don't you understand?

Re:Planned Obsolescence (2, Interesting)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739295)

I'm a W3C member, have been for years. Microsoft is not the source of the problems there. The closed-door membership is a problem, but that's not Microsoft's fault. Nor have Microsoft attempted to abuse their position in the W3C in the past decade or so (there was an instance a long time ago, but that was quickly resolved and hasn't happened since). There are plenty of issues at the W3C, but they're not due to MS.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739353)

You're not a member the way Microsoft is a member. That's the problem. MS didn't create the problem, but it has used it to its advantage.

Tell me about DHTML and IE compatibility. Or general MS compliance. They certainly do help shepherd the W3C along standards directions that they prefer to beat with proprietary versions. That's what "embrace and extend" means, which has been MS's strategy since they publicly reprioritized the Internet and joined the new W3C.

I don't know how you could be part of the W3C and not see that. But those kind of scope blinders are part of the MS advantage in the way they use the W3C to game the system they've mastered.

Re:Planned Obsolescence (5, Interesting)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739455)

Everything you've described is completely unrelated to the grievances that Bjoern listed in his mail which was the impetus for the Slashdot posting. I'm not saying that Microsoft is competent at writing browsers that are compliant (heck, just look at the Acid2 test in IE vs any other browser), but I *am* saying that the problems *at the W3C* have nothing to do with Microsoft, and could be solved, regardless of what Microsoft do.

(BTW, in case you think I might be some sort of Microsoft apologist: I think it's pretty clear from my life over the past few years that I'm not on Microsoft's "side" here.)

Grassroots efforts do exist... (4, Informative)

Cherita Chen (936355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739017)

There are grassroots efforts out there. If you care to look, you can find them [webstandards.org]

Re:Grassroots efforts do exist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739383)

Yes, efforts exist, and bless the WaSP and the WSG and all the children of Jeffrey.

But the problems outlined in TFA are not addressed by your link. It's fine to say "Standards are Good, Here's How to Use Them" as WaSP does (and as I do, on a small scale). But if the standards themselves are bit-rotting, and the tools for measuring compliance are broken, and no one is minding the store, then good intentions and bootstrap education are only going to get you so far.

Having said that, I am aware of one genuine potential alternative [whatwg.org] out there, and if there are others, please launch the URIs.

(PS: Reading between the lines of the last paragraph at that link makes me think that you, me and Björn might not be the only ones concerned here...)

All hail Flash. (1, Flamebait)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739041)

This sort of crap is why more and more web development is going to be heading to Flash. It's bad enough that the two major browser developers can't get it together and give us full implementations of the W3C standards, but the W3C itself is a nightmarish group of technocrats arguing over what crazed esoteric implementation path the next versions of XHTML and CSS will follow.

As a designer, why should I give a damn about the W3C and its standards when the W3C can't even get it together? Why should I spend my days debugging issues caused by convoluted standards piecemealed together by a bunch of wacky nerds when I can just fire up Flash and just lay out websites however I want to? I'm sure that people can give me the usual speeches about open standards, accessibility, etc., but I don't see that kind of rational thought in the work of the W3C. What I see when I look at the standards they churn out reminds me of Stallman and HURD - well intentioned, but unlikely to ever produce something that most people want to deal with.

If the W3C can't get it together, XHTML/CSS are going to fade away as more and more developers get sick of esoteric markup languages and Flash will conquer the web.

But hey, at least Adobe seems like a better overlord than Microsoft...

Re:All hail Flash. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739100)

As a designer, why should I give a damn about the W3C and its standards when the W3C can't even get it together?
As an user without a broadband connection, why should I give a damn about a site written in Flash that takes several minutes to load when almost every other site uses plain HTML?

Re:All hail Flash. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739134)

As a user _with_ a broadband connection, why should I give a damn about a site written in Flash that takes several minutes to load when almost every other site uses plain HTML?

Go ahead and contribute to the internet's growth into a horrid cesspool, if you really want.

Re:All hail Flash. (5, Insightful)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739130)

You're exactly the kind of person I love to hate. "Oh, I can't use that, so I'll use this, which is just as bad if not worse."

First, Flash is as closed as closed can be. Second, it's completely proprietary. Third, Macrodobe only really support Mac and Windows for the Flash Player. Still no version 8 for Linux (and they themselves have announced that there never will be an 8 for Linux), while 9 is betaing for OSX and Windows.

I'd rather use the standards which have been "piecemealed together by a bunch of wacky nerds" rather than using something which limits people to using X with Y on Z running P which Q made you pay for because R told them to.

I may like some of the things done with Flash, but I really don't think it's well suited for doing full websites. Intros, sections of navigation, maybe. But it's too much of a resource hog, too bloated, and I hate not being able to navigate using the keyboard.

Re:All hail Flash. (3, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739139)

Well, if you want to produce websites that happen to work on a fairly limited set of browsers, why don't you just makes a PDF and get the whole thing over and done with?

There are very good reasons why you can't just lay a website out however you want, namely, it doesn't make sense if the final render target is something you don't expect. Like, oooh, I dunno, paper.

The web is designed for accessibility. It's intended that anyone can read your site, and that it will degrade fairly well for browsers that support less features. If that's not important to you, fine, but stop claiming you're producing web sites if you're just making large Flash documents.

Please?

Re:All hail Flash. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739480)

"Well, if you want to produce websites that happen to work on a fairly limited set of browsers, why don't you just makes a PDF and get the whole thing over and done with?"

Well said!!
I've a cousin who is a web/flash developer who is a nut. While I like the stuff that's coming out of flash, most of his clientele involves "companies" who want this sort of stuff. However when it comes to actual content delivery, who wants to deal with flash?

XML is where it's at, and the reason why W3C is having a hard time is because you have companies who are arguing over how they can get the advantage over another company's product. Look at the mobile web standards and it's a convoluted mess between cellphone manufactures and their different Web language formats like XHTML basic versus XHTML mobile profile. WML is archaic but at least backwards compatible with everything current.

Everytime I talk to certain proponents to anything new and flashy I think back to a recent conversation to a gentleman who was doing research on fiber optic installation in the area. While granted, fiber would be great, especially considering the neighboring "technical" communities, I asked a simple question. What about the impact on the area? traffic, construction etc....
He told me it would help, because people would use this instead of traveling places.
my mind actually went numb because I did not think a highly intelligent person would reach this conclusion from my line of questioning. My line of questioning was in reference to how well the eco-friendly groups would react. In addition, how would the construction impact the area. Prior to getting permits for doing any form of construction (this includes laying fiber) they take a look at how it'll effect the immediete area, from noise level, traffic and etc...

My guess the research done has been primarily one sided in the BENEFITS of such an infrastructure but not at the COST of doing so. While I'm all for advancing technology, if the community doesn't want it or is split over this, then it needs to be debated properly. I'm all for federal funded stem cell research, as long as Dubuya Jr. and conservatives are against it, then the nation itself cannot support the research. Fortunately, states such as California are willing to go ahead on this. That's how it is sometimes.

When something is desperately needed then it gets created, but when something that is not so important, wait till the dust settles and don't worry about it so much. This frustration over at W3C is just a bunch of people jockeying for authority and power.
In the end, a someone will always come along and do something different anyway. Then we'll see a better standard.

Re:All hail Flash. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739144)

Flash will never take over the web for multiple reasons, but on the forefront is accessibility. On top of that, AJAX keeps gaining momentum and I beleive that a lot of things that are currently written in Flash are going to go the way of Javascript (AJAX).

Re:All hail Flash. (1)

GoatMonkey2112 (875417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739160)

You're right that Flash is pretty good if used correctly. The backlash you see is mostly from the flashing annoying ads that everyone knows as what Flash is.

The real problem I see with Flash is the cost of entry. Last time I checked Flash was $600. Alternatives to making flash files are not nearly as good.

Adobe and standards (2, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739176)

Right, the same Adobe that had a well known university professor arrested for making a speech? Yeah, they have my vote for overlord...

Anyway, if you don't like one standards organization it doesn't mean you should bundle yourself up in a proprietary binary format. Write a new incredible standard and people will support it. Or go help start a new standards organization. Your solution isn't a solution. It just contributes to the problems.

Re:Adobe and standards (2, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739334)

"Anyway, if you don't like one standards organization it doesn't mean you should bundle yourself up in a proprietary binary format. Write a new incredible standard and people will support it."

You're missing my point. Designers who use Flash to avoid the hassles of XHTML/CSS aren't likely to develop new standards of their own. And why do so many people expect designers to care about open standards? Many, if the the majority, of design applications - Quark, Illustrator, Indesign, Maya, and so on - use proprietary standards. Aside from simple printed products, much of the world's digital creative output ends up on proprietary standards - CD, DVD, AAC, WMV. Openness is the exception, not the rules, and to many people, there is little, if anything, sinister about proprietary standards. Given that, if the web standards crowd expects people to give a damn about open standards, much less use them, they need to do a better job of putting on a big happy face and getting along with the rest of the world.

When I go to the Macromedia/Adobe web site, I'm greeted with a lot of well-written information for designers and technical people. The applications come with great documentation built-in. It's all happy, and pretty, and user-friendly. At the W3C site I get buggy validation tools and a bunch of not-too-useful, esoteric documentation that rarely covers practical aspects of web design. That's not the kind of stuff that wins people over - especially when developing for open standards tends to require more knowledge and effort than the alternative.

Re:All hail Flash. (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739251)

Flamebait anyone?

Esoteric? (2, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739267)

esoteric markup languages

XHTML and CSS aren't esoteric. They are widely understood and widely used. They also don't lock you into a proprietary content creation tool and a proprietary viewer. I'd rather not put the whole future of the Web in the hands of a single company, no matter how good their products.

Re:All hail Flash. (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739351)

I have to agree wholeheartedly.

I've been developing web apps since "web app" meant CGI scripts, and if there is one thing that smacks me in the face each and every day, it is what a tremendous pain in the ass it is to develop web applications compared to desktop apps, thanks in large part because of the hodge-podge of ad hoc technologies that have been thrown at the problem, generally because some narrow corporate interest (Sun, Microsoft, Adobe) wanted to make wheelbarrows of money, or because some bunch of technology evangelists wanted to reinvent the wheel yet again (insert alphabet soup of competing languages and standards and frameworks) without benefit, apparently, of ever having seen a real wheel in the first place.

More than ten years after the initial wave of enthusiasm about the web, it is still impossible to sit down and design a complex web application with the ease that has long been normal for desktop applications. And that is not because of an inherent complexity involved in client-server application development, especially in an age when most of that complexity can be handled by mature database software and other back end apps. Developing web applications is like punching yourself in the face, hard. You get used to it after a while, but in the long days between (admittedly generous) paychecks, you can't help wonder if it might not be better to go back to writing software in an area where the end product isn't mostly digital duct tape instead of waiting endlessly for vaporous standards to be finalized and implemented. One can only take so much pride in being highly skilled at compensating for broken (and generally undocumented) toolsets and ill-considered technologies.

I'm not sure Flash is the answer, but on the other hand, it wouldn't be the first time that a so-called "90% solution" ended up becoming the de facto standard because no one else could get their shit together. It's certainly preferable to spending hours looking for the magic combination of XHTML and CSS parameters needed to lay out a damn page the same way in five different browsers.

Re:All hail Flash. (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739443)

Talk about non-sequitur. If you think that Flash is a valid alternative to W3C recommendations, I don't think you really understand what W3C's purpose is. It's much broader than the narrow efforts of Flash, which is only available to personal compuber based browsers with a plugin.

Slow and cumbersome (3, Interesting)

Null Nihils (965047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739046)

One thing that bugs me about the W3C is their apparent lack of recognition for newer extensions to Web technology. They seem to keep leaving a huge gap in what Web standards support while companies like Microsoft implement a closed, proprietary, platform-dependent kludge to provide that functionality. Its understandable that a cross-platform, developer-friendly solution for new capabilities should take time, but the W3C seems 15 years behind everything. Web Standards are indeed in a sorry state, and have been for some time. Just getting people to recognize the CSS standard is a headache, and things like rounded corners are still a long way off.

This is one area that a more open, participatory model is sorely needed. Look how far the Linux kernel has come in the past 15 years! And then look how far Web standards have come... not far, in my opinion (The CSS 3 spec is taking how long? And will get implemented in most browsers when?)

I think we, developers and Web-savvy alike, can do much better. But we have a lot of work to do... the Web has become very balkanized but it is still a market that has more wiggle-room than, say, the Operating System market. After all, Firefox is has gained significant marketshare and it still seems to be growing...

At any rate, TFA's seem to be punctuating a sentiment that will hopefully motivate people to move Web Standards forward sooner, rather than later.

Re:Slow and cumbersome (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739182)

The CSS 3 spec is taking how long? And will get implemented in most browsers when?

Well, they need to finish CSS 2 first. CSS 2.1 has fully replaced CSS 2 which was buggy and CSS 2.1 have recently been pulled back from Candidate Recommendation to Working Draft. At this rate it will be non exiting in a year!

Re:Slow and cumbersome (4, Informative)

hixie (116369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739330)

CSS2.1 went back to working draft because we got some 100 or so comments on it when we last went to CR. If you read Bjoern's original mail, he pointed out that some W3C groups weren't dealing with comments -- well, the CSS group is one of the few groups that _is_, and that's why it's taking a long time for CSS2.1 to be completed. You can't have it both ways: either we listen to your feedback and fix the spec, or we ignore everyone's feedback and make an irrelevant spec.

Re:Slow and cumbersome (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739379)

I know. I was trying teach the fact in humorous way.

So far everytime I've started that CSS 2 is not a standard yet, people keep pointing at CSS 2 - Recommendation or CSS 2.1 - Candidate Recommendation.

Re:Slow and cumbersome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739230)

...but the W3C seems 15 years behind everything...

Dude, you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.
15 years ago the world wide web hadn't even been announced.
Care to check out this usenet post [google.com] ?
That's right, 15 years ago the only publicly accessible web server
was http://info.cern.ch/ [info.cern.ch] and even this one wasn't
widely known outside of CERN at the time...

Re:Slow and cumbersome (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739316)

the W3C seems 15 years behind everything.

Internet Explorer 7, which hasn't even been released yet, will not support large sections of the CSS 2 specification, published by the W3C in 1998. If you think the W3C are behind everybody else, then I believe you are only looking at the bits and pieces of their specifications that are actually implemented by the browser developers. With that twisted reasoning, it's logically impossible for them to be ahead.

Just getting people to recognize the CSS standard is a headache, and things like rounded corners are still a long way off.

Rounded corners are in CSS 3. Browsers haven't finished implementing CSS 2 yet. What's the point in the W3C racing even further ahead when the lack of browser support means it won't make any difference for years to come?

The CSS 3 spec is taking how long?

CSS 3 is a group of specifications, not a single specification, and some of them are ready to be implemented. So the answer to your question "How long?" is "Already there."

standards shmandards (5, Insightful)

The Queen (56621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739071)

As long as clients ask for shiny spinning mouseover widgets and marquee scrollers on their crappy company homepages, and as long as us designers need their money, standards will continue to be meaningless. If Client X clicks on his little blue 'e' and sees what he wants to see, Designer Y gets to eat that week. I can suggest that their choices are bad, but the customer is always right (and I must quit bitching before he takes the project to his nephew who'll do it for free)...

Truly, I'd LOVE to be able to tell a guy, "No, sir, we can't do that. It's not supported by any of the current browsers." And then deliver a clean, stylish Zeldman wet dream.

Re:standards shmandards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739333)

If you're having a problem with clients taking their projects to their nephews, then you either need a better class of client, or a serious skills upgrade.

Re:standards shmandards (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739345)

As long as clients ask for shiny spinning mouseover widgets and marquee scrollers on their crappy company homepages, and as long as us designers need their money, standards will continue to be meaningless.

It's a myth that animation etc is non-standard. Sure, there are non-standard ways of doing things like that, but there are standard ways too. It's rare to find something that simply can't be done with compliant code.

Open version of W3C? (3, Funny)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739078)

Does this mean that an open version of the W3C will come about?

Re:Open version of W3C? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739446)

This just in:

Theo de Raadt could be heard mumbling about sticking a fork in W3C and creating an Uber secure version of W3C called, wait for it, OpenW3C [openw3c.org] .

PS. All donations can be made payable to Theo de Raadt :)

Needs some competition (2, Funny)

Chris Graham (942108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739081)

This kind of chaos is typical of academia. There's no profit motive, no distinct customer to serve.
What we need is to open up the standards market and encourage some commercial competition between standards. Standards that cannot create a profit will go out of business, whilst new, more profitable standards will reign supreme. With 100 standards competing for developers and corporate sponsors, us web developers will get the choice of the semantic swimming pool that serves each of us best. Personally I always thought that the sexual overtones of 'head' and 'body', and especially 'foot' had no place in a standard, so I'll be renaming them to 'first', 'second' and 'third'.

Re:Needs some competition (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739140)

You think the words 'head' and 'body' have sexual overtones? Wow! There really is no accounting for taste. Wait, no, weirdos: there's no accounting for weirdos. That sounds a lot more accurate.

Re:Needs some competition (1)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739440)

Wait, no, weirdos: there's no accounting for weirdos.

I think that should be: there's no way to count all the weirdos

Re:Needs some competition (1)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739364)

No way, 'first', 'second' and 'third' have way too many sexual overtones. Just suffix each word with 'base'. There's no place in a standard for this kind of filth.

Bureaucracy sucks (1, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739118)

The W3C, as far as I can tell, never accomplished much at all. And you know why? They didn't have an actual PRODUCT.

If the W3C wanted to set standards for browsers, then they should've been MAKING A BROWSER. And open-sourcing it. At the very least, they should've been creating "rendering engines" that could be plugged into the various browsers on the market.

Thankfully, the Mozilla team seems to have picked up the slack in many ways.

Re:Bureaucracy sucks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739255)

Anybody who ever tried Amaya would agree with you, no product, at least not a usable one.

What a letter! (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739123)

That's one hell of a grievance note. Well-written, well thought out, and it makes its points well. That time I stuck a note to the convenience store owner's door raising certain questions regarding his personal pedigree as a result of his mother's alleged affection for certain types of sea otter before setting my uniform shirt on fire in the parking lot and never going back, sort of pales in comparison.

The w3c isn't relavant anyway.... (2, Interesting)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739168)

...they are way behind the curve, the innovations and recommendations for standards of the innovations have no parity. The largest market share holder for browsers doesn't fully support the recommendations anyway, and appears not to have any intention to in the newar future. Even when a recommendation is published and closely followed much of it never makes sense to anyone except its designers.

Inorder to be fully usuable a recommendation should have examples throught of making use of the things being documented and much more explict definations of what is expected output/results of making use of an element of the recommendation. But alas NO....

Even the people's Champion Mozilla/Gecko/Firefox does fully, cleanly and totally impliment recommendations that have existed for years. And even if it did the 8000lb gorilla does even less in the standards compliance department. Mean hell the java/ecmascript standard hasn't changed much in years and it still reqires hacks to support both browsers at once.

CSS is even worse...hell they don't even in all cases provide the same events support, and how long has that been standardized.

Nope the w3c will remain ineffectual (which in my opinion probably contributes to their lackadaisical attitude) until the standards start getting properly, cleanly and fully implimented, otherwise whats the point of having standards and/or improving them.

The current state of things is like having 3 almost indentical light blubs, one that is designed to the socket (works pretty much all the time), one that is a hair to small for the socket (works for the most part but once in while due to climate variations loses contact, sputters a little might need adjustment from time to time to keep working), and one that is a hair to wide (you can get it into the socket but it might crack doing so and need to be fixed/replaced alot, might need s a little forcing to get lit up in the first place).

W3C can't win here (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739199)

The main problem here is that everyone who's in the "online biz" views the web as a tool to enhance their own leverage on their market share. MS tries to tie more parts of Windows into web apps so Windows has a leverage against alternative operating systems. Oracle tries to push their "web access enhancing" tools to gain market shares in the online database market. And I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was trying to get iTunes somehow into a webified form so they get a leverage on their online music share.

Nobody cares about the web or compatibility. Actually, everyone is trying its best to create as much incompatibility as possible.

W3C is standing in the way of big enterprises. Its very existance is a nuisance (not enough for a danger, but a nuisance) to the leveraging attempts of the big players.

So they have a really, really hard time. There's as far as I can judge nobody with big pockets on their side, but a lot of cash against them.

Tim B-L (5, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739200)

I've been highly critical of Tim Berners-Lee leadership on the W3C. He established a structure that sidelined individual, mostly-disinterested members and replaced them by corporations interested in log-jam and difficult implementations that keep the small players away. The W3C was from the get go the antithesis of the IETF.

Tim then jumped into the dubious "semantic web" runaway train, full of inflated promises but bereft of actual results. The "semantic web" is high-risk research best left in the hands of academia. A standards body organization should be focusing on how to make the web better today, by improving on the current protocols, not on day dreaming about HAL-like computers.

This 'problem' started in the mid-90s (2, Interesting)

DeeDob (966086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15739244)

As a developper, i never knew what to aim for when designing web pages. Even in the mid-90s so this is nothing new.

I develop my pages for Netscape or for IE or for what the W3C says it SHOULD be.

Result: I developped for IE first, then made it work for Netscape and never bothered with the W3C.
Clients and people don't need code that works as "standard" when no one is able to correctly view the results of that "standard".

IE had some proprietary elements working. I remember however that the W3C had no "standards" for those functions. The standards came later and the W3C said that the way Microsoft implemented those features was "wrong". As Microsoft, do you really want to re-code your thing because someone came with a standard too late?
Same thing with Netscape and it's DHTML vision of "layers". The W3C standard came too late and Netscape's "layers" were deprecated. Developper's work going to waste as they have to re-invent the wheel.

When a company sees a customer need and fulfill it, why do the W3C need to analyze that need afterwards and come up with a totally different version of what's already available instead of expanding on it? It just waste the browsers developpers time and the web designers time so much that nobody cares about the standards anymore.

The W3C, Microsoft.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739278)

..and the rest are why I'm currently reading Slashdot instead of working.

Oh, boy! CSS! The W3C says this, IE does that, Firefox does that!

Seriously, I repent. I'm one of 'those' people - you know, the kind that can spew C at you and have it translate directly into nightmares that will haunt you and eat away your sanity for all eternity. I used to make fun of the web weenies. HTML, feh. Learn a real language, y'wee pansies!

Now, though, with modern 'technology' (if you can call it that).. Sirs, I apologize. My hat is truly off to anyone who dares to eke out their living as a web designer. How anyone can get a site to do anything with the black morass of conflicting standards and implementations, and make clients happy by doing it, is far beyond me.

I'm now going to back in my cave and hug my compiler, and thank it for not being the terrible insanity that has been visited upon us by the W3C, Microsoft and Netscape.

Herding cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15739376)

Two major issues here:

1) W3C working members are generally overworked, uncompensated, over-tired people who work elsewhere for a living - and attend "meetings" to help their effort or employer - the W3C stuff is generally not "on the radar" WRT their real jobs.
2) Getting a room (virtual or otherwise) of engineers/developers/designers/programmers to work together and come up with a single, simple solution in a reasonable period of time - is very similar to herding cats.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?