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Problems at the W3C 303

dustin writes "Public outcry against the workings of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is growing. On Sunday, Björn Höhrmann announced his departure in a lengthy critique of problems at the W3C. Web standards champion Zeldman adds his comments as well: 'Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers.'"
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Problems at the W3C

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  • Possible solution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) * on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:22PM (#15738874)
    Maybe a non-profit organization of independent web developers could be formed (perhaps already exists?) that could obtain membership on their behalf?
    • Why not the IETF? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Skynet ( 37427 )
      Seems like the logical place to me.
      • Re:Why not the IETF? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pneuma ROCKS ( 906002 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:54PM (#15739117) Homepage

        Actually, there already exists such an organization: the WHATWG []. It was created by browser developers including Opera, Mozilla and the makers of Safari. They have released several specifications, some of which have already been implemented into the browsers. For instance, the canvas element, and SessionStorage, which is included in the upcoming Firefox 2.

        Quite frankly I prefer the idea of a single standards organization, in this case the W3C. It's more sensible to find ways to make this organization more flexible and open than to start having competing standards and the unavoidable incompatibilities. But sometimes there is no alternative than radical change. I hope it doesn't come down to this.

    • Fight fire with fire? Nah, that won't float around here :)

      Seriously, though, good call.
    • As I understood Hoehrmann's message, his complaint is insufficient budget for full-time developers and testers, and to keep the validator running.
    • Wrong Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ichin4 ( 878990 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:33PM (#15738956)

      The summary mis-represents the bulk of Bjoern's critique, which less about the lack of non-corporate participation and more about the fact that the organization just doesn't work.

      I wonder how the bulk of slashdotters, for whom a W3C standard seems to be a sacred cow, will react to the message that these standards are all-too-often ambiguous, bone-headed, poorly supported, slow-moving, and lacking important features.

      • Re:Wrong Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:37PM (#15738991)
        Standards aren't a sacred cow here -- they're just a convienent cudgel to bash Internet Explorer with.

        Suggest that Linux fails to meet UNIX specifications, for example, and watch the apologies flow in.
        • by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:52PM (#15739105)
          We're very, very sorry.
          • Yes I don't think it can be stressed enough how very upset we are by this unfortunate development.

            We're doing our best to remedy the situation as we speak. Please excuse our dust while we renovate!
        • Re:Wrong Problem (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
          Suggest that Linux fails to meet UNIX specifications, for example, and watch the apologies flow in.

          I haven't seen that one happen yet, especially since Linux doesn't purport to be UNIX(tm) (though it is Unix.)

          Start telling people it's not POSIX, though, and they'll argue.

        • Re:Wrong Problem (Score:2, Informative)

          Jesus H, anybody who knows anything knows that Linux is not UNIX, and nobody besides a few noobs has ever suggested that Linux was UNIX. At best, it's a mix of SystemV and Berkley UNIX-like features, but guess what, it doesn't make a lick of difference. What! Shock? Horror? No, as you pointed out with your careful choice of words, UNIX is a specification -NOT- a standard. That's a very crucial distinction. Standards are meant for ***interoperability***. Standards are what allows that precious IE of yours to
      • Re:Wrong Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:03PM (#15739185)

        I wonder how the bulk of slashdotters, for whom a W3C standard seems to be a sacred cow, will react to the message that these standards are all-too-often ambiguous, bone-headed, poorly supported, slow-moving, and lacking important features.

        I think you're being a little unfair there. There are some highly vocal, pro-W3C zealots around, but there are also some of us who have always argued that any sort of formal specification is merely a means to an end, and should be used if (and only if) that end is desirable under the circumstances.

        In web design, if you want maximum portability, you follow W3C standards for all the smaller browsers, and then provide suitable hacks for the big one. OTOH, if you just want to reach most of the general public and don't want to chase diminishing returns much, targetting IE is the obvious choice, since it is the only relevant standard (albeit a de facto one) in this context, and your pages will still mostly work on other browsers (or get their users to switch back temporarily to IE) anyway.

        Similarly for corporate intranets, some people bitch about how dangerous ActiveX is and yada yada yada, but the fact remains that it's a practical tool to solve a problem. Users complaining that "better" browsers like Firefox don't support it is going to cut exactly zero ice with any corporate management/IT.

        IME, posts pointing this sort of thing out are frequently modded both Insightful and Troll/Flamebait several times, usually more + than -. Thus it seems rather unfair to characterise "the bulk of slashdotters" as being semi-religious W3C devotees. The majority of posters in certain discussions perhaps, but apparently not the majority of mods, and we'll never know about the lurkers or those who do post but are sensible enough to avoid religious topics.

      • Re:Wrong Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

        by J Story ( 30227 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @08:31PM (#15740612) Homepage
        Bjoern's complaints address a number of inadequacies, but what stands out for me is an apparent lack of communication between his group and "them", and that puzzles me. Is the W3C some kind of star chamber? Is the list of its individual participants -- the people, not the companies -- held secret? Why is he not naming names?

        Usually, if you take it upon yourself to do the legwork and you continually follow up with key members of a group, you can obtain a response and a justification. This is not easy, and sometimes it requires a team of dedicated people, but committee groupthink will take all kinds of silly positions if its individuals are not held to account as individuals.
    • this accepts the premise that people shuold be competing with companies, and in this the people will always lose.

      people need to STOP assuming that companies have the best interests of regular people in mind - it is not the case.

      simply stop supporting w3c and build a new system. let the governement try and stop the people again
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@AAAtpno ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:25PM (#15738898) Homepage
    I never understood why web standards aren't maintained by the folks that actually are writing the browsers. Membership would require a browser with, say, x% market share.

    This would seem to be a slam dunk to me. I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

    Might. Anyway, it'd be better than having some extra organization making up rules that none of them really pay more than a passing look at.
    • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:30PM (#15738928) Homepage
      figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

      That sounds great in theory, but what would probably happen in reality is that Microsoft would end up writing the standard, and adding proprietary, patented extensions onto it in order to ensure permanent dominance for Internet Explorer.

      I would much rather have a somewhat supported open standard, rather than having a closed standard perfectly supported by one company.
      • Uhhh... think... hmmm.. thing some more...

        Nope.. I just can't seem to put the pieces together here. If Microsoft writes things into the standard, how could they be extensions? How could they be proprietary?

        What were you trying to say?
      • That sounds great in theory, but what would probably happen in reality is that Microsoft would end up writing the standard, and adding proprietary, patented extensions onto it in order to ensure permanent dominance for Internet Explorer.
        A scenario like what the GP suggests would create a 'fox guarding the hen house' kind of situation.
      • by hixie ( 116369 ) <> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:05PM (#15739205) Homepage
        Actually Microsoft take part in several working groups, most notably the CSS working group, and seem to do so in good faith. They play by our extension rules, they are making attempts at fixing their standards compliance bugs, etc. I'm not saying they're perfect, but ever since Firefox showed them their market share wasn't guaranteed, they've become active again and have been acting as reasonably as the other major browser vendors.
      • Even if Microsoft greatly warps the standard to their own so-called liking, do not expect them to live by them. Their own distortions of the standard become the very things they ridicule in public and use as reasons to reject/violate standards.

        More of these desired standards to not occur precisely because to Microsoft it is a weapon, and we wind up working on silly things to displace more-legitimate web standard undertakings. What will SOAP ever do for anyone?

    • Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple are all members of the W3C according to its members [] page.
    • That might work if Microsoft had any interest in being standards compliant. They don't want everything to work perfectly in all browsers since being incompatible in some areas helps them retain their monopoly. This is one of the biggest and wealthiest corporations on the planet, if they really wanted to achieve compliance with the current set of standards they have every means to do so. Instead they choose to be way behind and create proprietary extensions that only work on their OS.
      • That might work if Microsoft had any interest in being standards compliant.

        Being disinterested in browser development is not the same thing as being disinterested in standards compliance.

        If you look at IE in the late 90s, for example, what you saw was that they were implementing W3C standards at an emormous rate, blowing Netscape and Opera out of the water, and IE was by far the most standards-compliant browser at the time.

        The Standards game always favors the players that invest the most money in developmen
        • If MS wanted to bury Firefox, they could just spend the cash to invent and implement standards at a rate that nobody could keep up with.

          No they couldn't, because they'd have to redevelop MSIE from scratch and forget about backward compatibility with previous IE-only code.

        • by baadger ( 764884 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:04PM (#15739194)
          The root issue is that MS doesn't see web standards support as an important competitive issue.

          Yet. Once IE7 has shipped with whole bunch of competitive out of the box features, Microsoft has to put it's foot down and start the real work of restoring faith in it's users. Firefox's usage may be low, but i'm sure most of remaining IE userbase must have been feeling *the ripples* even if they aren't aware of Firefox's existance or choose not to use it.

          I'm of the opinion that IE7 is just a distraction, a way of catching up superficially to yank on the chains of the competition. Once it's out and the buzz has died down they are going to need that late 90's velocity right back (and they *have* said there will be more frequent updates to IE) otherwise it's going to be a gross waste of time and a huge disappointment.

          The question is, will Firefox's (now large) ego survive a battering if MS really ramp it up in IE8 once Vista is out of the box and can Mozilla remain competitive? Personally I hope not, being humbled is good for the thought process.

          • I'm of the opinion that IE7 is just a distraction, a way of catching up superficially to yank on the chains of the competition.

            I somewhat agree that the IE7 plan makes sense -- from an End User point of view, IE's failings are the lack of Tabs and poor security, so it makes sense to address those first.

            99% of End Users could frankly care less about full CSS2 support, because everything is equally possible with tables and a little script. But IE got on top largely because it went after the 'hearts and minds
    • I think that they would be too afraid of exposing intelectual property to let this fly. I imagine a coder from each company sitting with his lawyer around a conference table.

      Microsoft: "It's a nice day today."
      MSFT Lawyer: "That's patent pending, you can't touch it!"

    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:45PM (#15739047) Homepage Journal
      I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

      That's not Microsoft's history with standards bodies. They come up with some ideas that rely heavily on their own technology. (Did you know that the first version of XSL used Visual Basic as a transform language?!) When the other participants fail to react with total enthusiasm, they decide that standards are overrated.

      To be fair, Netscape in its heyday was just as bad as Microsoft when it came to ignoring standards. But I've long thought that both Microsoft and Netscape would have been more standards compliant if W3C had done something to encourage standards compliance. Like trying to issue standards on a timely basis, instead of just assuming that implementers would sit on their hands until standards were ready. Or like creating standards tests instead of waiting for third parties to do it.

      But no, they just shrug their shoulders and keep creating standards that nobody will ever implement. W3C has not been effective for a very long time.

    • Very few "web standards" have anything to do with "web browsers". Most of them deal with Web Services and business to business standards that piggy back on HTTP.
    • I figure you get Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera to the table, you'd have some pretty interesting standards developed that the browsers might stick to.

      That's a perfectly reasonable belief. One that, unfortunately, does not correspond to reality. All the major browser developers have been members of the W3C. Microsoft helped write the CSS specifications. Just because an organisation has been involved in designing something, it doesn't mean they are going to support it.

  • How disappointing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by billDCat ( 448249 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:32PM (#15738947) Homepage
    How disappointing to hear this. We area at a time right now when we need standards more than anything. Between the onslaught of AJAX apps, the preponderance of Flash web apps, and the attempt by Microsoft to convert web apps to an extension of Windows with Sparkle and Avalon, we wholeheartedly need strong standards.
    • by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:55PM (#15739125)
      Well, just as an outside observer, it seems like the W3C is not very interested in "the web as application platform" -- instead pushing new document models like XHTML2 that don't really solve any realworld app dev problems.

      At least from my POV, the stuff going on at WHATWG [] -- such as a vastly improved FORM model and standardized AJAX support -- will have much more relevance to the web in the manner that I and probably most other slashdotters build it.
  • Puh Leaze (Score:5, Informative)

    by SafariShane ( 560870 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:38PM (#15739000)
    I just checked the cost of membership here: ted+States&quarter=07-01&year=2006&quarter2=07-01& year2= []

    Just over 6k. Seriously, 6k per year is not a lot for a company to spend. It's up to the geeks that work there to convince those who hold the purse strings that it's a worthwhile investment.
    • Good luck with that. 6k is a drop in the bucket when you look at the big picture, but when you look at departmental budgets, it's a different story. Particularly when you're looking at membership fees and dues. Few trade groups charge fees so large, and without a demonstrable impact on the bottom line, or on worker productivity, most controllers I've come across would red-flag and deny that expenditure out-of-hand.

      This holds true especially for private companies -- ownership sees that as six grand taken
  • Planned Obsolescence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:39PM (#15739009) Homepage Journal
    This problem is exactly what people predicted back in the mid 1990s, when W3C was formed. I was on the IETF HTTP-WG, and even those of us on various corporate payrolls knew Microsoft's membership in a closed-door W3C membership meant Web standards would go this way.

    It's a testament to the basic strength, openness and simplicity of the WWW that the W3C could continue its model for so long without collapsing itself or the Web.
    • by hixie ( 116369 )
      Microsoft have absolutely nothing to do with any of the problems that are listed in the article.
      • Except Microsoft helped design W3C this way.

        I think DocRuby is suggesting Microsoft designed it this way, so it would only just be usefull in helping them win against the then dominating Netscape, and then fall over and die from bureaucratic bloat.
        • by hixie ( 116369 ) <> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:21PM (#15739312) Homepage
          Microsoft have no part in the running of the W3C Team. If the W3C Team wanted to fix the problems that Bjoern listed, they would not find Microsoft stopping them. Blaming Microsoft for the W3C's problems is ridiculous Slashdot-flamebaiting.
        • To be honest it is probably in the interest of most of the corporate sponsers for the standards process to stick in the bueruecratic mud,
          Firstly because an unexpected change to standards plays havoc with your release schedule, and, secondly all those whizzy proprietry bits your customers are locked into would get replaced by a standards based method if the process worked properly.

          Havinf said that I think the problem hear is that most of the money is being divied up by large corporations because its a "good
      • Which parts of "corporate paymasters" and "closed-door membership" don't you understand?
        • by hixie ( 116369 )
          I'm a W3C member, have been for years. Microsoft is not the source of the problems there. The closed-door membership is a problem, but that's not Microsoft's fault. Nor have Microsoft attempted to abuse their position in the W3C in the past decade or so (there was an instance a long time ago, but that was quickly resolved and hasn't happened since). There are plenty of issues at the W3C, but they're not due to MS.
          • You're not a member the way Microsoft is a member. That's the problem. MS didn't create the problem, but it has used it to its advantage.

            Tell me about DHTML and IE compatibility. Or general MS compliance. They certainly do help shepherd the W3C along standards directions that they prefer to beat with proprietary versions. That's what "embrace and extend" means, which has been MS's strategy since they publicly reprioritized the Internet and joined the new W3C.

            I don't know how you could be part of the W3C and
            • by hixie ( 116369 ) <> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:38PM (#15739455) Homepage
              Everything you've described is completely unrelated to the grievances that Bjoern listed in his mail which was the impetus for the Slashdot posting. I'm not saying that Microsoft is competent at writing browsers that are compliant (heck, just look at the Acid2 test in IE vs any other browser), but I *am* saying that the problems *at the W3C* have nothing to do with Microsoft, and could be solved, regardless of what Microsoft do.

              (BTW, in case you think I might be some sort of Microsoft apologist: I think it's pretty clear from my life over the past few years that I'm not on Microsoft's "side" here.)
              • I already pointed out how Microsoft's abuse of its W3C membership and the W3C's structure makes the Web worse and weakens the W3C. Regardless of whether Höhrmann complained about them specifically, it's true. But that's just a response to your defense of MS after I mentioned how their membership behind the closed door signaled today's inevitable mess to us a decade ago.

                MS was our tipoff. They are not unique. They are just one of the corporate paymasters creating conflicts and system games from which th
            • The whole problem is that the W3C needs corp interest, patents, and money to stay in the game. If the W3C had to go it alone, all the individual corporate "members" would gut it like a fish in the courts. The current problem is that they've stopped writing good, simple, clean specs. With all the corporate interest the specs end up being one of two things: a) a "weapon" to punish who ever is on top of an industry a the moment by the threat of making it all "free" or b) attempt to skew the specs so only co
  • by Cherita Chen ( 936355 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:40PM (#15739017) Homepage
    There are grassroots efforts out there. If you care to look, you can find them []
  • Slow and cumbersome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Null Nihils ( 965047 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:44PM (#15739046) Journal
    One thing that bugs me about the W3C is their apparent lack of recognition for newer extensions to Web technology. They seem to keep leaving a huge gap in what Web standards support while companies like Microsoft implement a closed, proprietary, platform-dependent kludge to provide that functionality. Its understandable that a cross-platform, developer-friendly solution for new capabilities should take time, but the W3C seems 15 years behind everything. Web Standards are indeed in a sorry state, and have been for some time. Just getting people to recognize the CSS standard is a headache, and things like rounded corners are still a long way off.

    This is one area that a more open, participatory model is sorely needed. Look how far the Linux kernel has come in the past 15 years! And then look how far Web standards have come... not far, in my opinion (The CSS 3 spec is taking how long? And will get implemented in most browsers when?)

    I think we, developers and Web-savvy alike, can do much better. But we have a lot of work to do... the Web has become very balkanized but it is still a market that has more wiggle-room than, say, the Operating System market. After all, Firefox is has gained significant marketshare and it still seems to be growing...

    At any rate, TFA's seem to be punctuating a sentiment that will hopefully motivate people to move Web Standards forward sooner, rather than later.
    • The CSS 3 spec is taking how long? And will get implemented in most browsers when?

      Well, they need to finish CSS 2 first. CSS 2.1 has fully replaced CSS 2 which was buggy and CSS 2.1 have recently been pulled back from Candidate Recommendation to Working Draft. At this rate it will be non exiting in a year!
      • by hixie ( 116369 ) <> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:23PM (#15739330) Homepage
        CSS2.1 went back to working draft because we got some 100 or so comments on it when we last went to CR. If you read Bjoern's original mail, he pointed out that some W3C groups weren't dealing with comments -- well, the CSS group is one of the few groups that _is_, and that's why it's taking a long time for CSS2.1 to be completed. You can't have it both ways: either we listen to your feedback and fix the spec, or we ignore everyone's feedback and make an irrelevant spec.
        • I know. I was trying teach the fact in humorous way.

          So far everytime I've started that CSS 2 is not a standard yet, people keep pointing at CSS 2 - Recommendation or CSS 2.1 - Candidate Recommendation.
          • by hixie ( 116369 ) <> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:46PM (#15739510) Homepage
            I would just call it a standard and be done with it. ;-) It's far more mature than any other W3C document ever released (maybe except the XML 1.1 spec, which isn't bad, all things considered). It's definitely being read by Web browser vendors (including MS) and being treated as the normative reference. The fact that it has the label "Working Draft" is just an artefact of the W3C Process, which, IMHO, is yet another example of a W3C problem.
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:21PM (#15739316)

      the W3C seems 15 years behind everything.

      Internet Explorer 7, which hasn't even been released yet, will not support large sections of the CSS 2 specification, published by the W3C in 1998. If you think the W3C are behind everybody else, then I believe you are only looking at the bits and pieces of their specifications that are actually implemented by the browser developers. With that twisted reasoning, it's logically impossible for them to be ahead.

      Just getting people to recognize the CSS standard is a headache, and things like rounded corners are still a long way off.

      Rounded corners are in CSS 3. Browsers haven't finished implementing CSS 2 yet. What's the point in the W3C racing even further ahead when the lack of browser support means it won't make any difference for years to come?

      The CSS 3 spec is taking how long?

      CSS 3 is a group of specifications, not a single specification, and some of them are ready to be implemented. So the answer to your question "How long?" is "Already there."

  • by The Queen ( 56621 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:47PM (#15739071) Homepage
    As long as clients ask for shiny spinning mouseover widgets and marquee scrollers on their crappy company homepages, and as long as us designers need their money, standards will continue to be meaningless. If Client X clicks on his little blue 'e' and sees what he wants to see, Designer Y gets to eat that week. I can suggest that their choices are bad, but the customer is always right (and I must quit bitching before he takes the project to his nephew who'll do it for free)...

    Truly, I'd LOVE to be able to tell a guy, "No, sir, we can't do that. It's not supported by any of the current browsers." And then deliver a clean, stylish Zeldman wet dream.
    • As long as clients ask for shiny spinning mouseover widgets and marquee scrollers on their crappy company homepages, and as long as us designers need their money, standards will continue to be meaningless.

      It's a myth that animation etc is non-standard. Sure, there are non-standard ways of doing things like that, but there are standard ways too. It's rare to find something that simply can't be done with compliant code.

  • by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:48PM (#15739078)
    Does this mean that an open version of the W3C will come about?
  • This kind of chaos is typical of academia. There's no profit motive, no distinct customer to serve.
    What we need is to open up the standards market and encourage some commercial competition between standards. Standards that cannot create a profit will go out of business, whilst new, more profitable standards will reign supreme. With 100 standards competing for developers and corporate sponsors, us web developers will get the choice of the semantic swimming pool that serves each of us best. Personally I alway
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:55PM (#15739123) Homepage Journal
    That's one hell of a grievance note. Well-written, well thought out, and it makes its points well. That time I stuck a note to the convenience store owner's door raising certain questions regarding his personal pedigree as a result of his mother's alleged affection for certain types of sea otter before setting my uniform shirt on fire in the parking lot and never going back, sort of pales in comparison.
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haplo&epithna,com> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:00PM (#15739168) Homepage
    ...they are way behind the curve, the innovations and recommendations for standards of the innovations have no parity. The largest market share holder for browsers doesn't fully support the recommendations anyway, and appears not to have any intention to in the newar future. Even when a recommendation is published and closely followed much of it never makes sense to anyone except its designers.

    Inorder to be fully usuable a recommendation should have examples throught of making use of the things being documented and much more explict definations of what is expected output/results of making use of an element of the recommendation. But alas NO....

    Even the people's Champion Mozilla/Gecko/Firefox does fully, cleanly and totally impliment recommendations that have existed for years. And even if it did the 8000lb gorilla does even less in the standards compliance department. Mean hell the java/ecmascript standard hasn't changed much in years and it still reqires hacks to support both browsers at once.

    CSS is even worse...hell they don't even in all cases provide the same events support, and how long has that been standardized.

    Nope the w3c will remain ineffectual (which in my opinion probably contributes to their lackadaisical attitude) until the standards start getting properly, cleanly and fully implimented, otherwise whats the point of having standards and/or improving them.

    The current state of things is like having 3 almost indentical light blubs, one that is designed to the socket (works pretty much all the time), one that is a hair to small for the socket (works for the most part but once in while due to climate variations loses contact, sputters a little might need adjustment from time to time to keep working), and one that is a hair to wide (you can get it into the socket but it might crack doing so and need to be fixed/replaced alot, might need s a little forcing to get lit up in the first place).
  • W3C can't win here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:05PM (#15739199)
    The main problem here is that everyone who's in the "online biz" views the web as a tool to enhance their own leverage on their market share. MS tries to tie more parts of Windows into web apps so Windows has a leverage against alternative operating systems. Oracle tries to push their "web access enhancing" tools to gain market shares in the online database market. And I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was trying to get iTunes somehow into a webified form so they get a leverage on their online music share.

    Nobody cares about the web or compatibility. Actually, everyone is trying its best to create as much incompatibility as possible.

    W3C is standing in the way of big enterprises. Its very existance is a nuisance (not enough for a danger, but a nuisance) to the leveraging attempts of the big players.

    So they have a really, really hard time. There's as far as I can judge nobody with big pockets on their side, but a lot of cash against them.
  • Tim B-L (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:05PM (#15739200) Homepage
    I've been highly critical of Tim Berners-Lee leadership on the W3C. He established a structure that sidelined individual, mostly-disinterested members and replaced them by corporations interested in log-jam and difficult implementations that keep the small players away. The W3C was from the get go the antithesis of the IETF.

    Tim then jumped into the dubious "semantic web" runaway train, full of inflated promises but bereft of actual results. The "semantic web" is high-risk research best left in the hands of academia. A standards body organization should be focusing on how to make the web better today, by improving on the current protocols, not on day dreaming about HAL-like computers.
    • Very good points, and it relates to my gripe about the W3C: it shortchanges design.

      When the web was invented (thanks, Tim) its academic/scientific roots were plain, and unsurprisingly it seemed best suited for putting scientific papers online. Soon designers got more control over type and layout in the form of "tag soup" and tables for layout. Most page layouts involve multiple columns and headers and footers, and we could usually achieve that with nested tables. Plus, pages could be made "liquid," adjus
  • As a developper, i never knew what to aim for when designing web pages. Even in the mid-90s so this is nothing new.

    I develop my pages for Netscape or for IE or for what the W3C says it SHOULD be.

    Result: I developped for IE first, then made it work for Netscape and never bothered with the W3C.
    Clients and people don't need code that works as "standard" when no one is able to correctly view the results of that "standard".

    IE had some proprietary elements working. I remember however that the W3C had no "standard
  • Whose "rights" are being challenged here? This is just about politics in a standards committee. When the government comes swooping in and takes over things then we'll talk.
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @05:32PM (#15739753)

    The W3C should be absorbed by a more stable, functional, and respected international standards entity such as IEEE.

    While I believe in what the W3C does and produces, that's irrelevant when they produce next to nothing over the course of six years (which many thousands of people work with daily).

  • by sshore ( 50665 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @08:23PM (#15740575)
    Know what a swedish lightsaber sounds like?

    Björnnnn! []
  • by I'm Schepers ( 900611 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @09:09PM (#15740760)

    "Some of the best minds working in web standards have been quietly or loudly abandoning the W3C. Bjoern Hoehrmann is the latest."
    It's interesting that Mr. Zeldman links to an email in which Bjoern explicitly states that he is only leaving the QA Dev team, and is focusing on the W3C CSS and WebAPI Working Groups, where he is still active.

    "Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers."
    I will note that Bjoern is one of many invited experts in the W3C... you don't have to pay to participate.

    "It remains a closed, a one-way system."
    As for me, I'm an ordinary developer, and my small consulting company ponied up the dough to join the W3C because we thought that it would be worth it to have a hand in leading standards and having a say in how things are developed. My new workplace, 6th Sense Analytics [], will also be joining, because they feel the same way. Oh, and we didn't join at the 50K level, we joined at the reasonable 6K level, and I have never felt like we were treated as second-class citizens. If companies care enough about the standards they wish to adhere to, they can easily get involved in the W3C and mkae the changes... the more hands doing work, the better.

    "To be fair, the W3C solicits community feedback before finalizing its recommendations. But asking people to comment on something that is nearly finished is not the same as finding out what they need and soliciting their collaboration from the start."
    This statement is predicated on the idea that there is no way to ask for features and present use cases to the appropriate Working Group, a claim that Mr. Zeldman must know is incorrect. The SVG WG, for example, is basing many of its new features on author and user feedback over the last several years (from both the official W3C SVG list and the Yahoogroups SVG-Developers list), as well as taking into account the needs of its member organizations.

    Promoting other standards besides those from W3C, like microformats, is great. There's no need to be so disingenuous and inflammatory about it, though. Mr. Zeldman has no talkback on his forum for me to refute his claims, so I had to post this here. I think he's becoming increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers. Okay, that was a cheap joke... couldn't help myself.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.