WSP on "Why Standards are Important"

Saturday July 17th, 1999

Stephan Nedregaard writes in with this news:

"The Web Standards Project is currently working on a 'Why standards are important' FAQ.

An outline can be seen here."

#1 Hmm

by jmissig

Saturday July 17th, 1999 9:36 AM

I didn't think he was going to announce it until it was done. Oh well, we'd appreciate feedback.

#2 Feedback

by stephan

Saturday July 17th, 1999 7:46 PM

I submitted the link to MozillaZine to get valuable feedback from MozillaZine readers that haven't been part of this effort so far.

I believe MozillaZine readers can contribute with valuable input as we now move toward the first draft.

#3 Just my 2c

by Anon

Sunday July 18th, 1999 12:14 AM

This is going to be kinda nitpicky, but the language is kinda dry, more like a W3C standards text than a friendly document intended for newbies who don't know what standards are or what they're for...

Is this something that your average man-on-the-street web user is supposed to be able to read and understand? I would think so, as the idea of standards is more familiar to those "in the know". If indeed this is intended for mom & dad types to get an idea of what the W3C is for and what standards are, maybe the tone could be loosened up slightly, throw in a background color, etc. so it doesn't look so much like a technical document?

Otherwise it's great and I don't have any real complaints. Would it be appropriate to include information about which browsers are currently compliant and where to find complaint browsers for a particular platform?

#4 Cont..

by Anon

Sunday July 18th, 1999 12:18 AM

Oh, and yes I realize this is an outline, but I'm just talking about the overall tone...

Anon (again)

#10 Who's being addressed?

by Jake

Monday July 19th, 1999 8:44 AM

After reading only the first paragraph (I do intend to read the rest) it seems that this document is more for web designers than "mom & pop." If this is the case, then I'd say making it a little bit more like a technical document isn't all bad...

#5 WSP on ... WSP off

by Anon

Sunday July 18th, 1999 1:12 AM

I think it should at least mention SVG and MathML.... Or does it, and I just overlooked it?

#8 WSP on ... WSP off

by arielb

Sunday July 18th, 1999 10:22 AM

Well at least mathML for mozilla is coming along nicely. If it's in Netscape 5 then I will rewrite my website for it.

#6 Try using a standard character set ...

by james

Sunday July 18th, 1999 3:30 AM

If you are writing a document about the importance of standards on the internet, you should stick to standard character sets.

As it stands, the document does not display correctly on systems without MS Windows or the MS enhanced character sets.

When looking at the FAQ at the moment, a few apostrophes come up as question marks, because they have a value that falls into the reserved region for the latin character set.

#7 Nurrrgh

by Anon

Sunday July 18th, 1999 8:18 AM

General comments:

* As it is, this document is far, FAR too wordy. These people need to learn how to write for the Web. Helpful advice here:

* Needs a thorough proof-reading -- I won't mention every typo, since it's a draft ...

* The document should include the e-mail addresses of the authors. This would save me having to submit my corrections here (boring everyone else to tears :-).

* Posting a draft to news:comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html (and the relevant groups for tje other standards) would improve the document immensely.

Particular comments:

* 1: `Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web to provide a common space where users can share information to work together, to play, and to socialize.'

Nice thought, but incorrect. See for why TimBL actually invented the Web: `W3 was originally developed to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups'.

Since then, of course, the Web has developed quite a few other uses.

* 1: `... and enables us to fit our talents among those of millions of other people'. Does this actually mean anything?

* `Web' should be consistently capitalized. For that matter, make up your minds whether to use `Web' or `WWW', and stick to one or the other.

* 1: Juergen Steinwender says: `Why in the world does the webpage one has designed recently look different in various browsers on different operating systems? The answer is simple in its complexity: Either the developer has not followed the standards in his coding, or one of the browsers does not support the standards properly.'

Incorrrect. If Juergen doesn't understand one of the fundamental ideas of HTML -- the ability for different user agents (or even the same user agent) to produce different, but equally *valid* representations of the same HTML -- why is he (she?) a member of WSP?

* `HTML 4.0 ... Frameset, which incorporates support for frames into 4.0 Transitional'. Incorrect, I think. IIRC, HTML 4.0 Frameset doesn't have any special relationship with HTML 4.0 Transitional; it can be used just as well with HTML 4.0 Strict.

* `HTML was created to simplify SGML'. Incorrect. HTML was (somewhat inelegantly) designed as an *application of* SGML, not as a simplification of it. TimBL knew very well that HTML wasn't intended for the huge variety of uses that SGML has.

* `HTML also does a very poor job of actually describing the data in the document.' Incorrect. What you're trying to get at here is that HTML does a very poor job of describing data in *specialized* documents -- such as knitting patterns, chess games, and so on. For its original purpose -- essays, research papers, and so on -- it does very well, thankyou.

* `Data expressed in XML require [sic] a style sheet to have any meaning as a "web site"'. Incorrect. Support for a particular XML doctype may be built into a browser -- two examples being XHTML and MathML. No stylesheets necessary.

* `Both the presentation structure and the actual style of each element is left to be handled by the Extensible Style Language (XSL), currently being drafted by W3C.' Incorrect. *Any* stylesheet system can be used to present XML; indeed, from what I read elsewhere (and even later in this document!), CSS1/2 are the currently recommended method (see, while XSL is having a lot of trouble becoming a meaningful standard (see

* `you can have different style depending on how the site will be displayed'. Tautology.

* `It is open to the future'. On no account should this phrase make it into the final version, otherwise I will puke over the keyboard, and it's not my keyboard. <grin/>

* 3: `Why to use standards (Advantages)'. Should be `Why you should follow standards'.

I volunteer to proof-read this more thoroughly when it's in more of a finished state.

-- mpt (mpt @ mailandnews . com)

#9 WSP on

by stephan

Sunday July 18th, 1999 11:27 AM

Thanks :) - You may send additional feedback to my e-mail address. (

#11 Who's being addressed

by stephan

Monday July 19th, 1999 12:38 PM

The FAQ is meant for web developers, telling them why to use standards.

#12 The point here...

by Quabb

Tuesday July 20th, 1999 7:17 AM

As a member of the committee that is putting this together, I think it is important to note what the intent is here. The intent is simply, Why are standards important? Yes, it is aimed at web developers(as Jake pointed out), but that doesn't mean that we have to be technical to answer this question of why to use standards. Please, offer up as much comments as you can, as we want to make this as effective as possible