January 26th, 2008

Don’t Hurt the Web!

I found a very nice little campaign today from the good people at the Mozilla Developer Center. They are pushing the open standards movement and have made a very nice little banner to help the effort. At UltraSuperNew Inc. we are big supporters and users of open standards, so I want to pass on the nice campaign and share the love a little.

Firefox : Don’t hurt the web

This is a pretty open stab at Microsoft and their still market dominant (but waning) Internet Explorer which is famous for breaking web standards. Being responsible for putting together a lot of websites with my team, I have to say the lack of support for web standards in all flavours of IE is one of the biggest annoyances of our work.

On a related note, I recently spoke with Michael Smith from the HTML5 working group at the W3C (I also had him along to Tokyo2point0 recently, an event I co-organise to promote web development in Tokyo). He brought up a few interesting things about where the next web standards are heading from the W3C point of view. Over the past few years the trend with web developers has been to go towards the strict standards of XHTML where you have to be perfect for your code to validate. This movement is not quite working with about 95%, yes 95%!, of websites failing to validate. That includes HTML and XHTML sites, and the XHTML ones are just not a realistic goal for most developers.

The new movement at the W3C is to push developers towards to upcoming HTML5 standard which will be much more accepting and allow a lot more legacy code and make many of these old pages and old code structures work again. What they are also doing is clearly defining the way browsers should render the syntax, making life much easier for a browser that has any desire at all to meet standards.

The rollout of HTML5 is not going to be quick, but we can at least look forward to more easily obtainable standards in the future.

For now, the goal should be to understand that standard you are attempting to meet, use a validator to check your code, and stop using syntax that doesn’t work as specified on all browsers wherever possible.

We can all lament the mess that is IE and scheme for new ways to encourage users to get rid of it in favour of a browser that works properly such as Firefox or Opera. Perhaps this effort by the Mozilla Developer Center will help.

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