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What Web Standards Crisis?

Or, What W3C Web Standards HTML 5 Crisis at a glacial Circus pace do you Mean?

I was tempted to write this reply during the week in which the crises were announced but found it unnecessary. All crises on the internet have life expectancies measured in days (or, hours). The latest Web Standards Crisis has passed.

I have never—Ever—considered myself a Standardista; a Neo-Standardista but not Standardista. My perception of early Web Standards was that of Sans-culottes with Molotov cocktails and wishes for Utopia. That hasn’t changed. The Executive Safety Committee has but its mission has not: Universality (which includes Accessibility), separation of structure and presentation. And, the semantic use of markup languages.

The difference between true Web Standards practitioners and Everyone else is mission versus work. Consider this. Practitioners believe in the Mission; agency drones who must meet Accessibility because it is in the client’s contract requirements view Web Standards as part of the job: nothing more, nothing less. Those who believe in the Web Standards Mission continue to work towards Universality and separation of structure and presentation. Individual practitioners participating in Web Standards continues apace. General-use CSS template houses grow. Content Management Systems (CMS) and desktop editors remain problematic (though each new version improves its semantic markup and CSS use). Template houses for specific business CMS platforms continue the adoption of Web Standards. The final Standardista tenet - Use semantic markup - has grown in acceptance (even when the actual use of semantic markup remains inconsistent).

Those who embraced nascent Web Standards as beneficial—while others believed it to be Snake Oil Peddlers wares—continue with the educational processes. Perhaps, this passed crisis was about the glacial pace of the Web Standards educational processes. Perhaps, not. That would reflect poorly on the Web Standards movement itself. It couldn’t have been about the W3C: Web Standards education should have greater importance than worrying over the methodical pace practiced by the W3C, shouldn’t it? Why should Web Standards wait for the W3C? It hasn’t yet.

What does the W3C have to do with Web Standards? Web Standards was invented in lieu of the W3C. The W3C did not invent Web Standards but it did embrace it. What does HTML 5 have to do with Web Standards? It’s another markup language that may or may not be used by web authors; it’s another language that browser manufacturers will support with graceful error-handling.

If all that Standardistas have to fret over is a semantic CSS naming convention, they should retire to the Old Standardistas Home because they have finished their work. Or, if they are waiting for CSS Level 3. Web Standards has exited grassroots status: it did so when Microsoft attempted correcting its "hasLayout" rendering. [Note: I will admit that I am baffled by The Web Standards Project tagline, “a grassroots coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.” When do they expect to exit that grassroots status?]

All that remains is the continued education of the two fundamental principles of Web Standards: Universality and structure/presentation separation.

There could be a crisis. It’s not due to the W3C. It’s not due to the W3C HTML (5) Working Group. It’s the lack of a greater adoption of Web Standards. Those who participate in the Standards community continue self-education and refinements. I would hope that they practice Standards in their day jobs even if it is on a small scale only. If you happen not to believe me, please see this page. A new markup language will not make those sites better nor will new style sheet modules, selectors or rules. Those sites which fail would have benefited from performing validation: it seems that the most common Markup and CSS errors are still very popular amoungst large corporate sites. Perhaps, An Event Apart could visit them.

You next regularly scheduled Web Standards Crisis should appear in six (6) months.

[King “Fancy Pants” Z and Roger Johansson are offered apologies for the subhead.]

Sean Fraser posted this on September 8, 2007 01:18 PM.

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Roger Johansson wrote this at September 8, 2007 11:36 PM

Apology accepted ;-).

web standards wrote this at September 9, 2007 07:07 PM

I think it's appropriate to wait until most people feel like the crisis has passed to remind them of it. Thanks for posting this.

motoryzacja wrote this at September 13, 2007 07:31 PM

The “future” iterations of HTML are quickly becoming a modern day Goldilocks and the Three Bears… of course without a just right option.

With the additions of HTML 5 and XHTML2 the web slowly breaks apart titanic-style to form three camps: The folks that don’t understand standards and don’t care, the folks that use standards and do care but are frustrated by the different standards, and the ones who neither stand or understand standards, don’t use them and don’t care.

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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.

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