Internet standards for HTML

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is standardizing over 100 specifications for the open web, in at least 13 working groups. The CSS Working Group alone is in charge of 50 specifications. This does not include work on Unicode, HTTP and TLS.


Fear and loathing of HTML5

Part 1: Conflict

I wrote a post about development of the new HTML standard yesterday. Quite a conflict, a public one, is in progress between Internet standards groups, WHATWG and W3C, and to some extent within WHATWG itself. 

Ian Hickson, project leader with WHATWG a.k.a. Hixie, is catching much of the blame for being autocratic. But some of that is unfair, as he is also advocating virtues of expediency and compromise to market demand and user needs. See this Google+ discussion on HTML standards definitions, led by Ian. 

Also see a remarkably honest, and humorous post from Ian’s personal web page, Hixie on Handling People, which is being circulated, with defamatory effect. I think that is unfair and unwise. If Ian’s leadership is a problem, this is not the way to remedy it. The entry from his personal webpage is harmless. It shows he has realistic insights into how individuals and groups interact. 

Regarding HTML, Hixie should be aware that bowing to user demand is not always the best choice when developing standards. That’s why there ARE standards! Short term pain must often be endured for longer term benefits. An analogy is financial regulation. No one likes the SEC and internal audit departments when they impose restrictions that seem disruptive to market participants with a narrowly focused point of view. In the long-term, it is usually beneficial to everyone.

There is a difference between securities regulators, who have power of legal enforcement, and WHATWG, though! Yes, W3C and WHATWG DO have more power than I did as a Data Governance manager at TriCare. But they don’t have the ability to impose sanctions, like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does. If WHATWG or W3C standards are perceived as impractical or too costly, industry WILL circumvent i.e. ignore the standards. But I don’t think Ian should say that technical implementation defines the standards, in effect. That will lead to nothing but grief and short term thinking, and hurt the industry ultimately. 

Accessibility standards are another concern, alluded to with extreme delicacy (so subtle I’m not even certain) in the Google+ post. They are personally important to me, as a user. But again, it is a matter of benefiting the few and sacrificing for the many, in terms of delayed development time. Better accessibility is necessary, was needed for a long time. But forty years of past neglect can’t be remedied at once.

Part 2: Implementation Success Story!

Kaazing is associated with the HTML5 Doctor mentioned in my post, see above. The following is a delightful presentation by Kaazing from a conference in October 2011, using Prezi instead of Slideshare or PowerPoint. Reproduction is allowed here under CC License 3.0.