Help Petition MS to Support Standards

Thursday August 12th, 1999

Eric Krock writes, "The Web Standards Project has launched a petition drive to pressure Microsoft to support HTML 4.0, CSS1, DOM1, and XML in IE. Read the press releases here and here.

... then sign your name to the petition by sending an email from this page."

With Microsoft's posturing regarding messaging standards recently, you might have forgotten that Internet Explorer is not yet standards compliant. Microsoft, in fact, has yet to commit to full standards compliance.

It took the WSP nine months, but they seem to have finally gotten around to petitioning Microsoft on this issue (as you may recall, they petitioned last year).

Now if they could only petition the W3C to revamp their faulty standards process. The W3C could start by creating a certification process for browsers. A standard isn't a standard if there isn't some body enforcing the standard and giving its certification. Would you buy a bike helmet that wasn't approved by a standards body? A car with seatbelts that didn't meet safety standards? A TV that wasn't certifiably able to interpret the signal coming into it?

The W3C could then follow up by creating a verifiable implementation of the standard themselves, instead of forcing the browser makers to spend countless hours and dollars working through vagaries and inconsistencies in the "finalized" spec. (I have seen indication of this at times in the mozilla forums - I'd love it if a developer would speak up and give us a concrete example or two). Seeing as there is no longer a browser "market" - other than the incidental revenues browsers can draw in from portal sites - it seems silly to force browser makers to shoulder the burden of winnowing the standards specifications.

What do you think? Is it time for more fundamental changes in the web standards process? Let us know what you think in the talkback forum.

#6 When Will it End, Or, Prima Movers they are not

by Ben_Goodger

Friday August 13th, 1999 4:33 AM

You are replying to this message

"Its seems like the WSP members could use their time more constructively -- perhaps by helping design Mozilla, or by testing it."

But that's not their job. They're web developers. They are under no obligation to show allegience to any particular browser. They expect that the browsers they are given are sufficiently compatible that they can create their product (websites) in an efficient manner.

"I think there are more constructive things to worry about than the W3C's "faulty standards process." Like, perhaps, what should be added to CSS3, XHTML, XML, etc; or, how the aforementioned standards should be implemented."

W3C isn't as much about innovation as those who live on the bleeding edge, like Netscape or Microsoft developers. It did take them until HTML4.0 to include some of the stuff NN and IE have supported for years. W3C should be about defining what a standard is, and then providing some sort of authentication for products that meet their standards. Otherwise there is no point, the standards have no meaning. People who haven't suffered from standards deficiencies are beginning to think that "90% standards compliant" is enough. We should not move forward until we achieve excellence at what we have already discovered.

"Further, I think the people at Netscape are likely biased against Microsoft, and have no business rallying the Internet community to pressure it to better support standards -- effectively trying to foment some grassroots campaign -- one that has been already been going on for some time throughout more knowledgable circles. "

Of course they're biased against Microsoft. Microsoft is their competitor. Ford is biased against GM, and wouldn't hesitate to point out the faults in GM's products. But I think you're confused. Netscape isn't rallying anyone. The Web Standards Project is an independent organisation.

"Further, an argument that compares safety concerns for the general public to the standardization desires of a select few priveleged enough to be o n the Internet is inherently flawed -- no civil trials will result from an Internet client not complying with standards, nor will the government step in and mandate that a product adhere to such standards. "

How about video standards such as VHS? Or PAL/NTSC? I suffer from living in one of the few places that uses PAL, and I can't easily view foreign video cassettes on my ageing equipment. Recent equipment sold here supports both PAL and NTSC standards, so that people buying new VCRs can watch both styles of videotape. That doesn't affect my personal safety and well being (other than the emptiness provided by not being able to buy "A Clockwork Orange" locally ;)

"I haven't bothered to even read the petition on the WSP site [..]"

You've made that rather clear.

Don't forget that the WSP organized a petition against, and based on the support that was shown, the work that had been done on a capable but non-standards-compliant browser was ditched, and a new one created from a fully standards compliant engine. This because people spoke out.