Standards for Web Standards wanted

Robert Nyman and Vlad Alexander have published An Open Letter to WaSP, in which they call for a unified way of promoting web standards:

Web Standards are failing to break into mainstream development because the Web Standards community does not speak with a unified voice.

I agree with that quote (though that isn’t the only reason). However, I’m not so sure the idea of standards for standards would work. Let me think about it for a while. In the meantime, go read the open letter and contribute to the discussion.

Posted on October 4, 2005 in Quicklinks, Web Standards


  1. Molly seemed to agree, at least to some extent.

    I would like it, to have a place to refer people to when they ask the question “why should we?”. Cause I said so doesn’t work any more… ;)

  2. I don’t think standards are failing to break into mainstream. In the last few years, is there a major commercial site revision that HASN’T used web standards? While many companies don’t see standards alone as a good enough reason for spending money on a new site, when the time comes to rebuild using standards seems to be a given.

  3. I’m in the process right now of teaching my mom (a web dev of ten years) about standards. It’s completely unheard of among her coworkers, and she works for a Fortune 500 company. There are scores of developers who never, ever come across standards advocates; who continue to base their entire career on some eight-year-old book about HTML 2 or 3.

    I hate to say it, but there is going to be a very big wash-out of non-standards-based coders in corporate America. As standards do become more mainstream, and as companies realize that proper code requires a fraction of the work, the overinvlated web budgets are going to shrink, and jobs are going to go with it. My mom is beginning to recognize this, and it is a very good motivation to embrace standards. After all, I wouldn’t want to be the last person in my department to learn how to do their job correctly.

    I think a uniform approach to education is ideal. Personally, I am more than willing to be told that my DOCTYPE declaration is incorrect, or a feature is inaccessible. I don’t pursue standards in order to be right all the time. I pursue standards in order to be standard.

    BTW, I think that Anne van Kesteren is right on with his prediction of what the new “standard” would be: XHTML, CSS 2.1, and UTF-8.

  4. October 5, 2005 by EJ Vincent

    nickster: I do not know if XHTML will be part of the “new standard” or not. What specifically comes to mind is the lack of support in IE for the correct mime-type, both in version 6 and the upcoming 7.

    Other than that, I find the idea of alot of professionals not knowing about standards both scary and enlightning. I am still relatively new to web site design (coding or graphics), but hope to always keep standrads in mind and improve in time.

  5. Everyone speaks about the correct mime-type and I just wanted to say that one of the reasons I want to use xhtml is that it means that I can use Emacs with James Clarks nxml-mode because nxml-mode validates my markup as I write it, this probably isn’t the most PC reason but it works for me. And my code is always valid, almost… :D


  6. Mats, it’s likely that it checks for well-formednesss rather than XHTML validity - but having well formed code is just as important as having valid code (of course - valid code must be well formed).

  7. Just to make I am not misunderstood. That I think XHTML 1 will be part of it, if it at all happens, does not mean I approve it. (As should be clear from the post.) I am well aware of the problems regarding Internet Explorer and XHTML, but there are still a lot of sites out there claiming to use it.

    Roger, how cool by the way that you use HTML 4.01! Brilliant.

  8. October 5, 2005 by Donnal G.

    I think people who wrote the open letter are naive to think that Anne and Hixie will ever compromize. Both Anne and Hixie are bearly our of school with no Web dev expertize to back up their statements. A few months in the testing department at Opera do not count. At least someone try to untite Web standards while others snubb their nose at W3C and develop HTML 5.

  9. Too bad you did not investigate. Not sure why I would respond to such flames but just in case other people have similar sentiments here some food for though.

    I do have web development experience as it happens. I have redone the markup for the main site from the Dutch government, And I have done several less important websites, including those of a Dutch national broadcasting company.

    Also, I am in W3C working group for Opera.

  10. October 6, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Anne: Hehe. I suspected you’d be happy to find that I’m using HTML 4.01 ;-).

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