[Skip to the Main Content]

A Simple Web Standards Survey

Or, What Constitutes Web Standards?

It’s a simple question.

I see two replies.

  1. Fundamental Goal

    Web Standards is Universality (which includes Accessibility) and separation of structure and presentation.

  2. Future Goal

    Web Standards is Universality (which includes Accessibility), separation of structure and presentation, valid (X)HTML and CSS, semantic markup and semantic use of ID and Class names for CSS.

Or, has Web Standards become something else?

The mission of Web Standards has not—Seemingly—changed. The definition and execution of Web Standards seem to be changing. I was curious to know if anyone else has this impression and thought I would ask by survey.

What do you believe constitutes Web Standards?


Sean Fraser posted this on September 3, 2007 10:38 AM.

  • Add to Technorati Favorites
  • de.licio.us: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/web-standards/web-standards-survey.html
  • furl: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/web-standards/web-standards-survey.html
  • reddit: http://www.elementary-group-standards.com/web-standards/web-standards-survey.html

Comments

Tomas Caspers wrote this at September 3, 2007 11:08 AM

Web Standards are a toolbox. They help to get a job done.


CJ Barnes wrote this at September 3, 2007 03:33 PM

Web Standards is nothing more than

  1. writing well-formed code that complies with current best practice (the computer equivalent of using correct grammar in writing), and
  2. using the right tool for the job (e.g. not using presentational HTML instead of CSS).

For me, Web Standards isn't about Accessibility at all, it's about reminding people that webpages work like any other digital file format—i.e. there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way to write them, and there is an official spec. you have to follow if you want your pages to work properly…


Matt wrote this at September 3, 2007 04:17 PM

Web standards are standards that dictate a universal way to both store (or distribute, for dynamic content) and present content in an organized manner that is easy for both humans and machines to understand. It controls accessibility through the ways in which this information is stored or distributed. For example, if a file uses invalid markup, how can it be expected to be accessible for someone that cannot use a tool to present the information visually (or aurally) based on the "valid" information and any other styling/markup?

Web standards exist, in my opinion, to create universally acceptable methods for rich web programming, thus keeping developers sane. Think about it for a minute. If nobody set down standards, we'd all be programming in IEHTML, GeckoHTML, PrestoML, and WebCoreHTML. Everyone would go in different directions and it would be almost impossible to make web apps work across platforms.

Also on that note, standards set down exact methods for rendering documents (in terms of padding, margins, box model, etc.) that dictate how a page should look. Because it is not up to the consumer which browser they are using (or are not presented with a wide selection; i.e., on a cell phone, their Wii, etc.), it would be rather confusing to find that a website is broken on one device or computer and not on another. These standards (such as the Acid2 test) verify that the methods for rendering content are uniform and standardized. If they are not, we'd all be in "WebTV" hell.


Andrew wrote this at September 4, 2007 05:53 AM

Web standards for me simply means a set of methods of marking up and styling web documents that:

  • Are accepted as appropriate by the majority*;
  • do not impinge upon accessibility;
  • provide stability on which to base future advancement.

*Majority meaning professionals in the field.


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at September 8, 2007 12:55 PM
Thomas:

A toolbox that few use.


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at September 8, 2007 12:56 PM
CJ:

“writing well-formed code that complies with current best practice”

That's fair. Who defines "best practice"? Web authors? UA manufacturers? How do "best practices" exist with "web standards"?


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at September 8, 2007 01:03 PM
Matt:

I like the "WebTV Hell" analogy. And, it's true that

“...standards set down exact methods for rendering documents (in terms of padding, margins, box model, etc.) that dictate how a page should look. ”

However, browser manufacturers' use of graceful error handling seems to have made Web Standards irrelevant for most web authors and CMS developers. Why bother with valid code when browsers guess-fix (or, ignore) errors.

And, that was one of the musings I had when I posted this survey after reading various articles and forum comments: It's the fault of the CMS but it doesn't matter because [INSERT PERCENTAGE] of the code is valid.

I got the impression - for those comments - that if a site is [INSERT PERCENTAGE] that site should then be considered acceptable but not valid.


Comment Author Gravatar
Sean Fraser wrote this at September 8, 2007 01:04 PM
Andrew:

When you wrote,

“...Are accepted as appropriate by the majority. *Majority meaning professionals in the field.”

did you mean that Web Standards should be considered "best practices"?


Comment Here

Reply guidelines: Basic HTML (a href, p, code, blockquote, dl, dt, dd, ul, ol, li, cite and q) are allowed. Line breaks and paragraphs are automated.


Inappropriate, unwarranted or self-aggrandizemented comments may suffer redaction. Or, deletion.

[Note: A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is that small image in the comments. Gravatar sets-up them.]

The Elementary Standards: A Compendium of Web Standards, CSS, Linguistics and Search Engine Optimization methodology Copyright ©2005-2007 Sean Fraser. All work is published under a Creative Commons License. All Rights Reserved.

Palm trees on a grassy field in Hawai’i

Main Content Returns thus