Response to Jeffrey Zeldman of the WSP

Tuesday November 7th, 2000

It didn't take long for the Web Standards Project to come out with yet another hilarious piece of rambling.

Yes, Jeffrey Zeldman of the Web Standards Project has responded to my piece regarding the Flanagan petition. But is he responding to me?

Mr. Zeldman writes, "The petition by David Flanagan asks Netscape to release a standards-compliant browser, as promised. And as part of that, to incorporate bug fixes which already exist, due to the work of Mozilla engineers. That's anti-Mozilla bias? I can't follow your logic."

Did I mention anti-mozilla bias in my article, in regards to the Flanagan petition? No. Did I say anything about anti-Mozilla bias in my piece at all? No. I don't even know how to respond to arguments against comments I never made. Maybe that's because Mr. Zeldman has no idea who he is directing his comments towards.

Mr. Zeldman seems to equate my opinions on my site with the opinions of anyone and everyone else. He states, "Now someone else criticizes Netscape's implementation of your work...." and "I believe you owe it to yourselves..." and "If you don't want Netscape to bring consumers the best possible fruit of your labors, then why have you labored so long and so hard?" and "I don't think your attitude will serve you well in the marketplace...".

Who are you talking to, Jeffrey? If you want to address Netscape, address them. If you want to address, address them. If you want to address me, aim your comments at me, and stop obfuscating by implying that I speak for anyone other than myself.

In regard to Mr. Zeldman, I only made the specific charge that he neglected to actually examine Netscape 6's standards compliance before making his comments in Dave Flanagan's petition. Not surprisingly, Mr. Zeldman didn't answer the charge in his piece.

Mr. Zeldman writes, "Now someone else criticizes Netscape's implementation of your work, and instead of seeing it as support for the work you've done, you attempt to demonize the author."

In fact, Jeffrey, David Flanagan chose to not mention the fact that Netscape 6, in its current form, would be the most standards compliant browser on the market. He doesn't give any indication of how Netscape 6 stacks up against IE 5.5 Win or IE 5.0 Mac. In fact, he specifically gives the impression, in the title of his piece, that Netscape 6 is utterly non-compliant ("Netscape Navigator 6.0 to Fail Standards Compliance"). In Mr. Flanagan's piece, I see no support for the work that has been done *at all* (except for the patches for the bugs that he has an interest in). I am not alone in this assessment. Many Mozilla/Netscape developers felt that Mr. Flanagan's comments were extremely one-sided, unfair, and utterly out of touch with the development process. But Mr. Flanagan doesn't just paint an untrue picture of Netscape 6's standards compliance. He then uses this incomplete information to encourage others to support his view. And on top of that, he encourages them to tell Netscape to stop the release of their product, when they have RTM candidates! The audacity!

Mr. Zeldman, who railed against name-calling in my piece, recommends that I see a psychiatrist. But it seems that I'm arguing with someone who is himself arguing against his own made-up version of my statements. Someone who addresses me in the plural. Who seems to extract content from Dave Flanagan's article that doesn't exist. You make the call.

Jeffrey is right about one thing. We can't communicate at all. I can't communicate with someone who twists my words so transparently, who seemingly makes up facts to suit his opinions, and who refuses to investigate the truth about Netscape 6's standards compliance.

Do the tests. Netscape 6, when released, will be the most standards compliant browser on the market. And the WSP will still be led by a gentleman who seems to have no interest in basing his opinions on facts.

#47 Re: Re: What are Mr. Zeldman's real motives?

by Mike_Cornall

Saturday November 11th, 2000 2:50 AM

You are replying to this message

> > I think Mr. Zeldman's real motives are clear.

> And that would be web designers are tired of compromising, double coding and forsaking certain standards set forth by the W3C over two years ago?

If you think that is Mr. Zeldman's motive, then explain why he wants to delay releasing a browser that will greatly improve the situation?

But I agree with you that we want to get rid of the problems caused by lack of standards compliance, so once Netscape 6.0 is in reasonably good shape, let's get it out there. Then, with each subsequent release, we can continue to improve its standards support, and get rid of any remaining bugs. If those bugs really are as easy to fix as Mr. Zeldman claims, then it shouldn't take long to put out a 6.01 release.

In the meantime, Microsoft is moving IE, not towards standards compliance, but away from it (using protocols that are extended, decommoditized, and even patented). And, they're doing it intentionally! Surely that must bother you more than a few unintentional still-to-be-fixed bugs in Netscape 6.0.

> If I recall, WaSP was telling Netscape to put out the 6.0 browser back in July . . . not wait for it to be bundled with Netscape Messenger

You seem to be showing a lack of understanding of the development process here. Messenger is a parallel development thread, and removing it would have had little effect on Netscape's release date.

> and all the other add-ons

So what "add-ons" would those be? The feature I recall being mentioned most often was XUL, but XUL is an integral part of Netscape's design, and removing it would require developing something else in its place, which would have meant a delay, not a speed-up.

> With three months being considered an "internet year", I wouldn't consider 24 months of waiting as "rushing it".

It took 18 months for Microsoft just to produce an *upgrade* from IE 5.0 to IE 5.5.

Meanwhile, in 24 months, the Mozilla/Netscape developers have rewritten the browser from scratch, along with porting to multiple platforms, and including major new features. One of those features, XUL, provides the means for a whole new class of web applications, something Microsoft has also promised -- two years from now.

Consider what's involved in the browser -- support for dozens of standards and protocols, graphics, page layout, communications, multi-threading, history and bookmarks databases, and so on. Now, consider that Netscape 6.0 is not allowed to start slowly and evolve -- Netscape 6.0 must be born fully grown, in order to replace Netscape 4.x.

All things considered, Mozilla's rate of development has been nothing short of amazing. Name one other product that was developed, to Mozilla's required level of sophistication, in just two years. The original Netscape? Internet Explorer? The Gimp? Apache? XFree86? Linux itself? The answer in each of these cases is "No".

So all this sniping, by armchair quarterbacks, about slow development, is just that -- sniping. And the people doing it are either too impatient to think straight, don't understand the development process, or have ulterior motives.

> > Mr. Zeldman now believes that Netscape 4.x isn't so bad after all

> When did he (or anyone from WaSP)*ever* say that????

It's implied in Mr. Zeldman's recommendation to delay Netscape 6.0 to fix some minor bugs.

Mr. Zeldman is smart enough to know that it's a choice. If Netscape 6.0 is not released, then that means that people will still need to support Netscape 4.x.

If Mr. Zeldman still believes that Netscape 4.x is such a disaster, yet recommends holding back 6.0 because of some minor bugs, well, that would be irresponsible, wouldn't it?

> Everyone was under the impression that it was almost ready. Now we all hear there's more problems.

Now you're verging on telling lies. It's not true that "now we all hear there's more problems." The list of bugs has always been documented for all to see, and anyone could vote on their relative priority. What you call "more problems" is just known bugs that were deemed to be of lower priority, to be fixed later. Don't try to misrepresent the situation.

> No one's asking for "The perfect browser". Just one that remotely complies with 4.0 standards.

Which Netscape 6.0 does -- better than any existing browser.

But that isn't what Mr. Zeldman's proposal would achieve.

Mr. Zeldman knows that it comes down to a choice:

Case 1 - Release NS 6.0:

=> Improves standards support immediately.

Case 2 - Delay NS 6.0:

=> Leaves NS 4.x -- no improvement for now.

In both cases, the long term is the same -- NS 6.x is released with even better standards support.

So if Mr. Zeldman is so interested in standards support, why is he pushing for the case that only has the effect of delaying that support?

> would you prefer that Zeldman and WaSP just give up on Netscape[?]

No, of course not.

But I still question whether he supports Netscape in the first place.

In his earlier essay (your link), Mr. Feldman stated, "it is time to withdraw Navigator 4 from the market, whether Netscape 6 is ready or not." But anyone with half a brain knows that withdrawing NS 4 without a replacement would not have improved standards, but would, instead, have left Microsoft free to carry out their documented strategy to "decommoditize" Internet protocols. That would have hurt web standards, but benefitted Microsoft.

Now, by calling for the delay of Netscape 6.0, he again is proposing something that will reduce (delay) improved standards support, while benefitting Microsoft.

If Mr. Zeldman really does support Internet standards, then he is not being very smart about it.

> [give up on Netscape] like so many others in the design community already have?

I can't agree with that.

While Microsoft's Windows-tying may have induced the majority of Windows users to settle for IE, support for Netscape remains strong.

First, I rarely encounter a website that I can't view with Netscape.

Second, if developers and web businesses were fully committed to IE, then the percentage of sites running IIS would be going up, but it's not. Apache remains the dominant web server.

Third, the developers of Internet appliances, cable boxes, PDAs, etc., who have announced plans to incorporate Mozilla, continue to grow in number.

And, fourth, just in the last couple of months, three new light-weight browsers, for Linux and Windows, as well as Nautilus, have incorporated the Gecko browser engine.

But, even forgetting all that, I question the premise of your statement. As others have pointed out, web developers shouldn't be supporting browsers in the first place. Web developers should only need to think about supporting standards, and Mozilla and Netscape 6.0 will help make that possible.