The web development community continues to comment on Opera v. Microsoft, the W3C, and what is needed to propel this industry forward in the next decade. The latest installments are by Jeff Croft and Alex Russell and I simply can’t agree with their take on what would make things better.
As Jeff Croft said in his post titled: Do we need a return to browser wars (emphasis mine):
This is one of my biggest pet-peeves within the standards movement: this idea that if something isn’t compliant, it must suck. We’ve completely lost the innovative, experimental, lets-try-something-crazy attitude of web designers in the 90s, because we’re too damn concerned about making things that are compliant.
Reliving bits of glory from the days of the “Wild, Wild Web” isn’t helpful in any meaningful way. The fact is, the 90′s are over. This decade is already winding down, too. It’s time to move on.
The past is good for studying the effects of history and to learn from past developments. Reviewing that which has been can help inform that which may yet come. However, the browser wars of the 90′s were not good for web designers and developers. If they had been, the standards movement would never have been born.
If you’re going to review the past — it helps to look at the whole picture, not just a slice.
Jeff also said (emphasis mine):
Once in a while, we should be saying fuck standards and trying something out of the box. Obviously, that site you’re working on for a major client in the education sector probably isn’t the time to try this, but we do need to find the time. It’s the only way to move our industry forward.
Where should we do all of this experimentation? On our personal sites and blogs? I mean, I don’t really understand where the appropriate place is for displaying and/or parading this kind of alleged web-coolness.
In the era when Target is being sued because people are hindered from making purchases online and the days when Opera is filing claims against Microsoft for lack of standards support and monopolizing the market, how is moving away from standards compliance supposed to make things better?
Bemoaning standards as being boring overlooks the much larger issue that those very same standards compliment: accessibility! Just when the standards “movement” begins to gain some traction advocating that the web should be open for everyone, Jeff makes comments about standards in the context of browsers and validation. It’s incredibly short-sighted.
To focus is on what shiny new toys designers/developers can play with to dazzle and delight themselves and like-minded geeks is very 1990′s! Haven’t we moved beyond that as an industry? Haven’t we grown up at all? I think we should be focusing on the people who will ultimately being using websites. That is to say, everyone else.
To be fair, Jeff’s comments are based on what he read in Alex Russell’s latest blog entry, The W3C Cannot Save Us. So, I went and read what Alex said (edited to pull out my point — and emphasis mine):
…there are huge tracts of the HTML, CSS, and DOM spec’s that you simply can’t use. IE’s bugs combined with its market share conspire to ensure that’s true…Mozilla, Opera, and Safari all have their own warts as we get to the edges of what’s even theoretically possible w/ current specs. And that’s not even taking into account how utterly wrong, broken, and silent the specs are in several key areas. Even if the specs were great, we’d still be gated by the adoption of new renderers.
So, it is still like the pet vitamins
90's but to a lesser degree, right? When it comes to building something, anything for the web, designers and developers have to take the different browsers and how they render things into consideration.
The difference between the 90's and now is that the industry began to care about making websites that didn't have badges that stated "Best viewed in [insert browser name.version]." Web designers and developers didn't want to write markup and/or code specifically aimed at particular browsers or, God forbid, multiple versions of the same site/application to target all of them.
The more this discussion/debate continues, the more reasonable the idea becomes for there to be one core browser engine that renders "web code", allowing companies to bolt onto that core whatever features and frills they would like. The question is, should it be the responsibility of the W3C to create that engine? Is that what will solve the woes of the web as it grows and matures?