MozillaZine

Full Article Attached Open XUL Alliance Site Goes Live

Sunday May 25th, 2003

Gerald Bauer writes in with news that the Open XUL Alliance site has launched. The site aims promote XUL and encourage interoperability with a collection of XUL news articles, mailing lists and links.


#17 Real World, Indeed

by choess <choess@stwing.upenn.edu>

Monday May 26th, 2003 9:14 PM

You are replying to this message

Did you actually look over my post, or read the first and last sentences and decide to write me off as hopelessly out of it?

1) Given that my academic training is in Biochemistry, I'm not particularly attached to any academic perspective on markup or UI design. (Neither, I daresay, are most of the other Mozilla developers/QA with *.edu addresses--which includes our top layout developers[1].) In fact, I'm primarily involved in Layout/Parser bug triage, so I get to see on a regular basis all the very real things we have to do to work around bad decisions made during the evolution of HTML. I'm not passionate about this because I like getting people hot and bothered; I'm passionate because I see a really tremendous failure to learn from history going on here.

2) Do you have a refutation for the actual *points* of the newsgroup post, which I chose as a useful summary review and refutation of the W3C-stifled-innovation myth? The primary points, as I see them, are as follows: a) After about a year of discussion on the most significant WWW mailing lists of the time, the W3C released the first public draft of the Cascading Style Sheets specification. b) Three days later, the first public beta of *Mosaic* was released, without stylesheet support. c) Later versions of Mosaic introduced various presentational elements, a significantly inferior method of changing the display of documents. This was "innovation". d) When Netscape finally introduced stylesheet support...it was hailed as an example of their innovation, again.

CSS is not a particularly complicated technology. (If the W3C had been advocating DSSSL, a more powerful but significantly more complicated and difficult-to-implement technology, the decision might have been more understandable.) In short, it was a browser vendor in this particular (and important) case that stifled innovation by ignoring the W3C's work and deploying an ill-considered technology for what we can only assume to be short-term internal reasons.

Look, I agree with you that throwing a bunch of academics into a locked room and waiting for a standard to emerge through parthenogenesis is a useless waste. This is why I brought up the W3C's *current* process, which I think strikes a good balance between peer review/architectural considerations and actual field experience/individual needs. But this idea that you can build widely accepted standards through competition alone, without peer review from disinterested parties or any sort of checks on individual desires, is just as foolish. Ultimately, *some* things have to be dropped, or some details locked to agree with one implementation and not another, when a language is standardized; how long does it take, then, to fix up all the implementations to agree with the standard? How long does it take to fix up all the documents written in the language so they now work correctly according to the standard, and not just the local implementation?

Once again, I warn you that if you admire the "process" by which HTML developed, you are likely to get it. But I suggest that you ask any of our core developers if they think it's a process worth repeating; I'd be highly surprised if any of them agreed.

[1] Actually, dbaron got picked up by NS last month, but he's been a long-time student-developer.