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The Internet

WSP Petitions MS to Make IE Meet W3C Standards 95

Posted by Roblimo
from the catching-flies-with-honey-not-vinegar dept.
Eric Krock writes "The Web Standards Project has launched a petition drive to pressure Microsoft to fully support HTML 4.0, CSS1, DOM1, and XML in IE." Like it or not, IE is currently the most widely-used WWW browser. Since Microsoft is under a lot of pressure to act (or at least pretend to act) nice nowadays, a large number of polite requests to make their browser products fully support current and future W3C standards just might do some good.
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WSP Petitions MS to Make IE Meet W3C Standards

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  • The fact is Netscape needs to release a new browser that is more compliant to standards. I'm not sure I care about Netscape anymore though. I see AOL as being every bit as malevolent as Microsoft, and if people don't want to believe that then why, after aquiring Netscape, didn't AOL deliver it on all those spam CDs it ships out? AOL only bought Netscape to get the brand name (and Netscape's portal page), and is letting the browser die a slow and horrible death. I mean I read somewhere that AOL was having its users use Internet Explorer even after it had aquired Netscape!

    I say, there needs to be an open source browser that is not controlled by AOL! I'm not the one to start designing it, surely someone out there is, though!
  • It's taken so long because they've rewritten most of it. The fact that it is "unusable and unstable" is normal for a piece of software a couple of months off beta. I've been watching it for a long time - trust me.
  • Sure Microsoft could make IE read html properly. The real issue is whether or not it could make FrontPage and Word generate proper html. I just got done a stint making pages look the same in all browsers for a company in New Jersey. IE 4 and 5 are quite forgiving about bad html. The reason is that the stuff generated in FrontPage and when you use Save as HTML... in Word 97 is absolute crap. Do you really think that MS wants to make a web browser that doesn't properly display the slop that its web editing tools create? Even their marketing couldn't gloss that over in a nice way. Anyway though, that's just my thoughts on it.
    -Mike
  • Mozilla is a pre-beta product, and therefore not under serious consideration as a desktop browser. We're discussing release browsers, which is currently a competition between Opera v3.61, MSIE v5.0, and Netscape v4.61. I personally prefer Opera, then MSIE, and Netscape comes in dead last.
  • yes and no.

    Netscape are kind enough to release quite good JavaScript documentation. version 1.3 is out with docs downloadable from http://developer.netscape.com [netscape.com]

    the problem is that Microsoft's implementation of the "standards" doesn't follow Netscape's version. an example is the use of "JavaScript1.2" in the language attribute to the script element. IE 4 & 5 run scripts using 1.2, but it doesn't support all of 1.2 found in the Netscape docs. result is that you'll get broken scripts if you use it.

    but, in the future there should be a standard for scripting too. it's called ECMAScript. combine it with W3C's Document Object Model and you have something better than JavaScript as of today.

  • Is adapting draft standards that never make it or adopting "standards" which they draft with other companies such as Intel and then continuing to force them down our throats after they've died. (VBScript anyone?) I'm sorry but standards drafted by MS with other companies like Intel, Dell or Compaq aren't standards, they are just MS pressuring those companies into putting their name on it so they can say "look it's a standard."

    On the other hand if Netscape would support those proposed standards (in particular I am interested in the SMIL and HTML + TIME standards proposed by MS and Macromedia things would be better over all. Of course the ones listed in the letter are the biggest.

    BTW doesn't IE5 support XML fully? I haven't read but I did see it listed as spec. Also when I look at Office 2K output they seem riddled with XML? Can someone confirm if this is an in house version, the standard or a Microsoft "improved" (hah!) version...

  • ..and what is this "mandatory weapon" used for? To make it worthless for those that would supposedly have the greatest benefits of something like HTML. Indeed it is a weapon.

    I suggest you take a look at PostScript. You get all the power you need to specify exactly how things should be rendered (read visualized).

    "Waah! I can't define presentation on the pixel level. Update the standard to meet the needs of us professional webdesigners!"

    *sigh*

    /mill
  • A quote:

    MSIE5 supports XML

    buggy.

    DOM

    also buggy.

    CSS

    seriously buggy. they can't even compete with Opera on CSS level 1 compliance. IE5 doesn't even come close. take IE to W3C's CSS test suite and see how it totally fails. sad story.

    ECMAscript (javascript)

    also buggy.

    DHTML

    they're supporting their own standards. if DHTML is considered a "standard" Netscape supports that too since Netscape supports their own standard. it's even well documented.

    HTML 4.0

    I'd guess the HTML 4 implementation is buggy too, but I haven't checked.

    did you look any numbers up before you posted this?

  • but HTML4.0's lack of default still cramps my style.

    That different browsers should be allowed to render HTML in different ways is a core concept. If you wanted complete control, you should have used Adobe Acrobat.

  • Where I work we get quite a bit of web traffic. Quite a bit meaning more than 99% of all the web sites out there and IE doesn't get more usage than Netscape in fact...

    Mozilla/4.* 51%
    MSIE 4.* 38.5%
    MSIE 3.* 3.5%
    Mozilla/3.* 3.5%

    And then everything else... I've seen some stats from some other very high traffic sites and they mirror ours as well.
    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • The WSP was after Netscape about a year ago for the same thing.

    The current Mozilla/ NS 5.0 layout engine, that supports these standards (known as NGlayout) was not originally going to be part of NS 5.0. The WSP lobbyied Netscape to use NGlayout in the 5.0 browser, Netscape change their mind.

    Since Mozilla AKA Netscape 5.0, does appear to pass the standards tests and is trying to adhear to standards, there is no need to lobby Netscape at this time, except to maybe make it happen faster.
  • As many other posters have pointed out, 100% compliance with W3 is something of a rarity with most popular browsers (which means IE and Netscape).

    It seems that in cases where browsers break compliance, it is usually to extend the standard with proprietary tags. IIRC, Netscape started this with such vileness as the BLINK tag (please correct me if I'm wrong here). They took a lot of flak for that one, too.

    I've been working quite a bit with XML lately and IE5's support for it. It's not that Microsoft has broken W3 specs -- they've just gone and implemented stuff which is still in the W3 suggestion box. XSL may be an example of this.

    I think what MS is trying to do here is make a best guess at what will be recommended by W3. I'm sure they know that the final standard may well invalidate their current implementation. There were, for example, significant changes in XML support between IE4 and IE5. This may be because the XML standards were more solid by the time IE5 was released.

    A friend of mine was working on an HTML generator and was in a similar position. It is really hard trying to write a standards-compliant implementation when the standards are not yet finalized. It's also frustrating knowing that today's code will have to be completely changed in 3 months.

    I think the real risk is that IE5's implementation may become entrenched as a de facto standard before W3 makes a decision. By going ahead and implementing standards in a browser with majority marketshare, MS may make the W3 standard moot. Pragmatic web designers probably care a lot more about how pages look than whether or not they are compliant. What good are standards if only a handful of browsers follow them, anyway?

    I haven't worked on Mozilla any, but I would love for someone on the Moz team to comment on W3 standards and proposals. How much do they change? Have you had to make any major code changes as a result?
  • Alot of the posts here seem to indicate that people are suspecting that the WSP has an anti-MS stance. I remember a year ago, before it was decided that Mozilla would be 100% compliant, I was reading messages on the Mozilla site, and the people there seemed to thing that the WSP was anti-Netscape.

    A goal of the WSP is to have the two major browsers be compliant. Since Mozilla is already working towards that goal, there's nothing to petition there at this time.
  • "...crashes...with spelling mistakes in the HTML."

    Yeah! My compiler won't compile my code unless I spell keywords right! It sucks too! :)

    /* This was meant to be taken with humor, not as a flame. */
  • by DonkPunch (30957) on Friday August 13, 1999 @11:07AM (#1748415) Homepage Journal
    Section 1.0
    Paragraph a:

    When running javascript, all behavior shall be considered undefined.

    It is recommended that the implementor:
    1) Pop up annoying banner ads which never can be killed.
    2) Generate a minimum of three errors per page.
    3) Randomly close the browser in the middle of rendering a page.

    The coming standard is also expected to recommend forwarding your e-mail address to random spammer groups.

    Hope this helps. :)
  • MS just happens to be the only company to support it correctly.

    This flies in the face of the fact that MSIE 5 fails at more of the CSS1 tests [w3.org] than e.g. Opera does.

  • It's just a matter of time... before Mozilla is a standard part of most Linux distributions. just my 2 c's, ok, pretty obvious. :)
  • Standards for html, xml et al already exist, and Micromsoft's strategy of claiming to support the standards (and generally speaking, they do, to within the limit of bugs), BUT then adding "extensions" (spit) adn using marketplace clout to push those NON-standard extensions, si what sucks. Why can't they just go through the proper channels liek the rest of us?

    What rest of us? Surely you're not speaking of Netscape here, are you? Netscape was the innovator of the WWW-embrace-and-extend, putting HTML extensions willy-nilly into the early versions of the browser. The screaming about this was loud and clear back in 1995. Even today, Netscape's standards compliance is limited at best, dismal at worst. (Dealing with Netscape's very limited Java 1.1 support is a major pain.)

    There are no fully compliant browsers. Given the rate that the web is changing, there probably never will be.

  • The people who run the Hitbox counter take all the information they get from people hitting that, calculate it daily, and publish it as is. Very useful service, even if it's only 30,000,000 hits a day.

    Try it out, it's http://www.statmarket.com [statmarket.com].

  • Blank lines between paragraphs.

    Useful? Of course.

    A standard? Yup.

    Use them? Please.


  • MS is screaming loudly to get AOL to adhere to an instant messaging standard, but its own browser doesn't conform to W3C standards.

    Hmmm....
  • by Tsk (2863)
    if only mozilla was a bit more polished, a bit speadier a lot more smaller, and came with the OS :)
  • OK,

    If MS doesn't support web standards, then we know that their stance on the instant messaging thing is bogus.

    I think it would be more scary if they did support the standards.

    Microsoft supporting standards. Does. Not. Compute.

    (You do trust MS, don't you?)

    :-)
  • This open letter to Microsoft campaign is a good idea to participate in wether you support microsoft or not. One standards complient browser (mozilla) isn't enough - since at least half of the users will use IE us web programmers will still have to write for them too. Any pressure there can be for all browsers to render pages the same is good for everyone.
  • As far as I have read recently, M$ is planning a release 5 for Macintosh which will be more compliant than IE5 for the PC. And at the same time an update (5.01 or 5.1) for the PC will increase the standards compliance of IE.
    Netscape's version 5, if it ever is released, still has loads of proprietary tags, and is not nearly as broadly compliant as IE. They may, as has been said, more CSS supportive, but there is more than CSS out there that web designers would like to take advantage of.
    I think we should just give M$ a rest...sure they're trying to take over the planet, but until we see a better browser come out of Netscape, not a whole lot can be said.
  • Didn't they have similar requests with the last series of Netscape versions (ie: 4.x, 4.5x)

    The big question is: Does Mozilla already conform to these standards?

    I would think that if there was any other popular browser out there that did conform to the standards, then maybe MS would be more willing to conform.

    Until that time, I doubt that they will waste much time trying to do anything "correctly."

    On a related note: Would they then be forced to change Frontpage to produce compliant pages? That would be nice. Since every Joe Bob idiot is using Frontpage to right "Joe Bob's Home Page". Am I really missing out when I can't read "Joe Bob's Home Page?" Probably not, but many of my co-workers use it too, and though they are smart enough to realize what they are doing, it doesn't stop them.
  • Name one RELEASED standards compliant browser. Oh, that's right, there are none.

    It's like the SQL standard, targets to shoot for that aren't necessarily met. I think it's better that the standards are now ahead of the released products rather than a bunch of non-defined things being fought out (and revised in .01 versions) on the marketplace.
  • Pretty well said, I think :)

    Standards for html, xml et al already exist, and Micromsoft's strategy of claiming to support the standards (and generally speaking, they do, to within the limit of bugs), BUT then adding "extensions" (spit) adn using marketplace clout to push those NON-standard extensions, si what sucks. Why can't they just go through the proper channels liek the rest of us?

    Out of interest, it occurs to me that the real question is, if microsoft were to produce an open-source version of MS IE 5 (or 6, standards-compliant), whether the OSS community would accept it? (Would show how rationalised the anti-microsoft bias really is and delimit justice, I guess).

    Also, WHY is mozilla (which I'm pretty sure is meant to be standards-compliant from day 1) taking so long to get off the ground? It is still *far* from stable, and it's unusable as it is - I know I'm not the best qualified to talk as someone who doesn't code that much, but I don't see why it takes over a year to string together a few parsers and bits of GUI etc.

    Ho hum...

    ~Tim
    --
  • I think the problem with mozilla is that the opensource-community did not fully accept it. It is a large project with a predefined roadmap and scheduled release dates. That's not what the "average" opensource programmer likes.
    In addition to that there is a large and, as I heard, not that well written amount of existing code and 140 professional Netscape programmers continously working on it. There are not so many programmers even able to help in the project.
  • "Also, WHY is mozilla (which I'm pretty sure is meant to be standards-compliant from day 1) taking so long to get off the ground?" they've had to develop their own XP widget toolkit from scratch, for one. There are many other reasons, but you can see a development roadmap here for an idea of whats happening when: Milestone Plan [mozilla.org]
  • You do realize that most browsers claim to be "Mozilla 3.0 compatible" in their identification string? Some older site statistiscs tools might add those browsers in the wrong category. Yes, MSIE also mentions Mozilla in its id string.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seems this whole story is missing a very important piece. Several key members of the Standards Group were keynote speakers at the last Thunderlizard Web Developers Conference I attended in Atlanta. They passed around that very petition to get our signatures on it to submit to Microsoft. What you don't see in this story is that the same letter has been sent to Netscape, and when asked point blank, those same members of the Standards Group stated that Netscape Navigator isn't as compliant as MS. Instead of turning this into yet another "Flame the Borg" discussion, why not blame everyone and scream for compliancy from all sides? From a web developer standpoint, I can't even being to describe the number of times I've made fully compliant HTML pages and had to rewrite them to get them to work in Navigator, when they worked fine in IE. IE may have non-compliancy issues, but at least it can render tables correctly, an almost mandatory weapon in the web developers arsenal today. Don't even get me started on the problems Navigator has with DHTML. Always remember one key issue, who brought you the first non-compliant tags? Netscape. Push for standards, don't point the finger.
  • MS Was awarded a patent relating to stylesheets... I don't know if it's clear that it completely encompasses CSS, and i don't think anyone has challenged them, beyond just asking for clarification on where they stand in relation to legal issues they could impose.
  • AOL/Netscape STILL can't do tables correctly and crashes or dies with a DOS on pages with spelling mistakes in the HTML. That's pitiful.

    Netscape DOES do tables right if you DO them right. For example, most (all?) the table problems I've seen is when a tag is not closed. Are they depending on MSIE to 'correct' the error for them?

    And, what do you mean with 'spelling mistakes in the HTML'? I've never seen that happen before. Groundless accusations are pitiful.

    Netscape is, though, still behind on standards (CSS!), but that's what Mozilla is going/suppose to fix.

    For what I've seen, read, and heard from industry professionals (such as members of WC3), Microsoft has done everything possible to follow public WC3 specs.

    WC3? Oh, you mean W3C [w3.org]! Sure, all-knowledgeable one.

  • Now, I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but if you face the facts, you will see that MS IE is much closer to standards than the current batch of Netscape browsers..
  • I don't get the political push of this issue, I know M$ is less than angelic, but damn, as a webmistress I find the lack of standards a headache, a backache, and menstrual cramps all in one! >:-P

    The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk
  • Why ask? Just wait till Mozilla comes around. I would sure hate to see Microsoft finally get IE in shape just when a better product is coming along. Let them languish in non-comformity.
  • The WSP /did/ petition Mozilla to meet W3C standards, and Mozilla has taken that path, abandoning the old layout engine.
  • I think what MS is trying to do here is make a best guess at what will be recommended by W3. I'm sure they know that the final standard may well invalidate their current implementation. There were, for example, significant changes in XML support between IE4 and IE5. This may be because the XML standards were more solid by the time IE5 was released.

    I think the real risk is that IE5's implementation may become entrenched as a de facto standard before W3 makes a decision. By going ahead and implementing standards in a browser with majority marketshare, MS may make the W3 standard moot.


    For what it's worth, the same thing happens in the Mail world all the time. For example, the SMTP w/SSL RFC was in draft at the time that OE4 and Exchange 5.5 were released. They supported the draft at that time (which meant doing SSL-SMTP over a different port than normal SMTP, I believe 465). Then the draft was changed to do it on port 25 with an RFC821 keyword instead. And when OE5 came out, it supported the RFC. A later service pack to Exchange 5.5 also supported the RFC.

    So I think Microsoft has shown that even though they do have a release schedule and sometimes make the decision to implement something before it's a standard, they correct their implementation and support the standard in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Erm, XSL and XPath are no finalised standards, and hence "support" counts for diddlysquat.
  • Add Opera to the list (It might have bugs, but
    their goal is standard-complience, and not
    diverisity from that).
  • Yeah it does. Go to developer.netscape.com [netscape.com] The current standard is v 1.2 I think (though maybe it's up to 1.3 now).
    -Mike

"I've seen the forgeries I've sent out." -- John F. Haugh II (jfh@rpp386.Dallas.TX.US), about forging net news articles

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