Take a Stand and Understand the Standard - HTML with Style | 3 | WebReference

Take a Stand and Understand the Standard - HTML with Style | 3


Take a Stand and Understand the Standard

Is Compliance Possible?

From another point of view, this is completely idiotic. You don't create new technology on paper. You can't innovate by committee. This is the sort of stuff that gets done in the trenches, on the bleeding edge of new technology. A standard is about going around and collecting everyone's good ideas, putting them together, cleaning them up and polishing them so that they're easy to understand and use. W3C technologies are about coming up with new stuff. That's not standardization. It's innovation, and it should be set free.

Well, in theory. Say what you will, but most of the stuff that comes out of the W3C looks pretty good. And not all of it is smashing innovation. Most of the HTML 4.0 specification is nothing new at all. The W3C didn't come up with object embedding and internationalization out of the blue. It's out there in browsers, it's just not standardized.

So I propose that we look at the stuff the W3C produces differently depending on its innovation factor. HTML 4.0 isn't really innovative; it's just setting things straight. The DOM is pretty innovative; the concept has been around, but no object model has been so powerful and flexible. CSS and XML, on the other hand, are completely ground-breaking.

If you look at the standards-in-disguise, such as HTML 4.0, the case is pretty clear. You should deal with these as standards, and I would actually propose calling them so. As a matter of fact, there is a true standard for HTML; it's called ISO/IEC 15445:1998, also known as ISO HTML. The is a standard produced by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, in close co-operation with the W3C. ISO HTML is very similar to HTML 4.0 Strict, and has a couple of extra restrictions tagged on as well.

However, most of the stuff that's come out of the W3C in the last couple of years or more is completely innovative. CSS, XML and its by-products, the DOM, all of these are new technologies, created entirely on paper with no implementations until they were well along the development cycle. The interesting bit here is that a supposedly non-partisan organization, the W3C, is leading the innovation on the Web, and creating new technologies that are actually useful, despite the fact that they have deployment problems.

But why? Where is the Web going? What do all of these improvements lead us to? What are we trying to do with the Web?

The secret, which isn't really a secret, is that companies the world over are trying to make the Web a platform for developing and deploying applications. Therein lies the problem.

How the Web was Framed

The Web was created with a single vision in mind: A universal collection of text documents hyperlinked to each other. It consisted of a protocol to transfer these documents from their source to the person who wanted to view them (HTTP), a language in which to write the documents (HTML), and a unique naming system so that documents could be found anywhere on the Web (URI).

Altough it seems trivial to us now, this was a completely groundbreaking idea. And even though the actual technologies used to create the Web were simple, thinking the monster up was quite an achievement in my opinion. But these days, documents aren't enough. And hence, the technologies used back then aren't enough.

Arguably, the first technology to be used on the Web in order to create interactivity were forms. We discussed forms in Tutorial 13, and showed how they are used, in collaboration with a set of technologies such as CGI on the server end, to create documents on demand.

This led to the first Web-pages-on-demand, Web pages that were created on the fly by the server depending on what the user wanted. This was neat, but it caused a lot of things that were not so nice.

A lot of things came along later on that basically tried to add interactivity to the Web. An often overlooked example are frames; HTML frames were the first stab by Netscape to turn HTML from a document authoring language into a user interface language.

This is a big problem. This is a very big problem.


URL: http://www.webreference.com/html/watch/standards/2.html

Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: August 25, 1999
Revised: August 26, 2089