Shallow Thoughts

because deep thoughts smack of effort

CSS WG Development vs Adobe Development

Posted in Web Stuff by Bridget on December 14th, 2007

Andy Clarke’s post on the CSS Working group got me thinking. David Mead is the one to blame for getting my wheels churning. I don’t know if thinking is good for me, but I’m going to do a brain dump here, just because I can.

Andy said:

The CSS Working Group should look at new versions of CSS in no different a way to a software development company such as Adobe perceives the development of a new software product. New specifications must have clearly defined goals, a dedicated team of designers and software engineers and firm delivery schedules.

I agree that new specifications should have clearly defined goals, a dedicated team of designers and firm delivery schedules. Really, who could argue with that? But I don’t think it’s realistic to envision or even to suggest that CSS versions can be developed the way a software development company develops software.

When Adobe is delivering a new version of Photoshop, they are in control of the product from soup to nuts. Whatever specifications they create for how Photoshop should operate, they also produce the actual Photoshop end product. Bugs and flaws aside, it is a self contained entity with one group controlling the whole enchilada. As such, I think it is easier for them to develop features and enhancements to Photoshop at a rapid pace, relatively speaking.

That is not the case with CSS development. The W3C participants who dream up CSS specs don’t deliver THE companion product that renders the CSS according to the plan. CSS is dependent upon an “outside” product — the web browser, manufactured by entities other than the W3C. Obviously, this complicates matters.

Before you feel a need to correct me: yes, I know that there are seats on the W3C for the web browser manufacturers/developers. However, there are not seats reserved at Photoshop development meetings for the likes of, let’s say, Gimp or Corel employees. Adobe isn’t developing the standard for how image editing software should work in general. They are only concerned with the standard for how Photoshop should work. That is why I think comparing Adobe software development to best pet vitamins
CSS specification development is like comparing apples to oranges.

I wonder if it wouldn't be more beneficial to compare the adoption and development of the vCard standard by reviewing the trail blazed by the Versit Consortium and the Internet Mail Consortium. I don't have an answer -- just the suggestion. Has the development of vCard standards moved at a snail's pace? Has adoption of the standard been excruciating at any point in the process? Is it still?

Maybe it depends who you ask.

Maybe there will be some cues to reveal that it is just how these things go. Or it might illuminate the pitfalls that could be avoided if we are humble enough to learn from the example of others.

Maybe Andy is right about it being time for there to be a change in the CSS Working Group. Apparently there was one for development of the vCard standard. Is this merely a matter of how these things go?

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