Weekend Discussion

Friday March 3rd, 2000

This weekend's discussion: What keeps you interested in Mozilla, and what expectations do you have?

Just click the responses link below to enter the forum. Let us know what you think!

#137 Still more on standards and accusations.

by sacolcor

Saturday March 11th, 2000 1:30 PM

You are replying to this message

> I happen to think a good way for Netscape to lose the five developers, who still make pages for Navigator, is to create a situation in which all of their work is rendered useless, and then label the situation as an effort that is supposed to make their work easier.

The people at Netscape made the decision that their interests would be better served by concentrating on making a standards-compliant browser than by making a backwards compatible one. I rather doubt that this decision was made lightly or quickly. Since the people at Netscape have written a rather successful browser in the past, and certainly know their interests better than you or I, I'm inclined to take their word on it. In any case, since they are the ones putting in the work, they get to decide what they do and how they do it. Of course, since this /is/ open source development, you are welcome to take the code and create a product that serves your own interests or preferences. Doing this would be a positive, productive way of both promoting your interests, and building a professional reputation for yourself. Pointing out flaws is useful. Filing Bugzilla reports on them is even more useful. Writing a patch or seperate module to deal with them would be better yet. Repeatedly complaining in a public forum about them is not useful at all.

>>> I do not think making a Web browser [that can handle multiple HTML interpretations] is unreasonably difficult for people whose primary job is to make a Web browser. I believe that making a Web browser support two sets of rules is not significantly more difficult than making it support a single set of rules. >> The people whose primary job is making web browsers don't seem to agree with you. > That does not mean I am wrong.

No, but it means that the rest of us have to decide whether to believe a group of people who have been in the browser business for years, or a person who, although quite articulate, has not given me any evidence of browser design experience. Given those options, I'll go with the Netscape team. My own experience as a software engineer also leads me to believe that they made the right call.

>> If you have a reason that we should trust your judgement on the matter rather than theirs, please provide it. > This is a "borderline" personal attack, possibly one of those "pointless gripes" you mentioned.

It isn't an attack at all. Rather, it is a request for you to provide some credentials or evidence to lend strength to your position. If you've written a rendering or parsing engine before, I'll take your opinions on browser design much more seriously than I will if you've never worked on a professional software project before.

> If you want me to consider proving myself then I need more information. For instance, who are the people you suggest have superior judgement to me? What reason is there to trust these people's judgement? What have they accomplished?

They wrote one of the two main browsers in use in the world today?

With regard to writing web standards, how about Tim Berners-Lee, the W3C director? He's the one who invented HTML, HTTP, and URLs. He also wrote the first web browser and the first web server. These accomplishments (and others...see <>) are sufficient for me to trust his abilities in that field. As the director, he's the one who gives each web standard the final blessing. If you want to consider him an incompetant, you're going to need to provide me with some evidence as to why you can design web technologies better than he can.

>> Otherwise, assertions like these come across as na´ve > I think assuming a person's beliefs are wrong while she has, thus far, provided competent reasons for her beliefs, is a "na´ve" and blind action.

The issue isn't one of your beliefs; it's a free country and you can believe what you want. But when you repeatedly deride an organization in a public forum, you need to back it up. When you initiate a dispute of professional opinion with people who have established reputations, you need to either have a solid professional reputation of your own (by publishing quality research papers or leading quality software design efforts), or have solid factual evidence of incompetance. So far, the essence of your argument seems to be "The W3C standards/Mozilla aren't backward compatible, so their designers must be idiots".

In reading the standard, I've seen a number of areas where there /was/ attention paid to backward compatibility. There are also areas where they felt that a backward compatible approach would over-complicate the standard. If I'd been on the right mailing list at the right time, I probably could have seen (and even participated in) the debate over those issues as they came up. But I wasn't, so I'm willing to accept the results unless I see evidence that they did a bad job.

> I said the "standards body" should have a system similar to Bugzilla.

Then I may have misinterpreted your previous statements; it seemed like you wanted the standard to be directly designed by vote. That wouldn't work, for the reasons described in my last post. Having a public issue/suggestion board similar to Bugzilla could certainly be of utility in the process. However, keep in mind that (just as in Mozilla) there would still be a relatively small group of people authorized to decide whether any particular suggestion or issue is incorporated into the main work.

>> The number of people who truly understand the design issues will be vastly exceeded by the number of people who have only a superficial grasp of the problems involved. >If the people, who produced the "standard", produced a faulty "standard", then maybe they do not truly understand the design issues. Maybe they promote themselves as experts and lead "na´ve" followers into traps that will ruin them.

You haven't yet offered any evidence that the standard is faulty. Obviously, it isn't perfect; that's why CSS-2 followed CSS-1, and why work is ongoing on CSS-3. But the fact that it fails to perpetuate the mistakes of the past is hardly a flaw...I would consider it a feature. You're throwing around a lot of accusations painting the W3C as an evil, self-serving, greedy organization, but you haven't provided any facts to back up those accusations other than "They made a standard that requires changing existing code" and "They have a membership fee to join". These facts are insufficient to support your accusations.

> Did Mozilla's compatibility problems come from the general public, or the group of "experts" at the W3C?"

Neither. The compatibility problems were caused by the browser makers implementing features without agreeing on a standard way to do it first.

>> Don't begrudge the W3C the money it collects; I'm sure it takes a lot of money to keep the website running > I suspect I could maintain a similar site for $30 per month plus the cost of registering a domain name. I shall further examine this issue.

Make sure to spec it out to handle a comparable traffic load. Also, add in the cost of maintaining offices in nine different countries, each with their own mirror of the site, to make sure that people around the world are able to participate.