New W3C HTML Working Group…but who cares?

March 8, 2007

Topics: Web standards.

Roger Johansson comments on the establishment of a new HTML working group from the W3C. The comments on Roger’s remarks indicate a general sense that developers don’t expect a lot from this. The 3 1/2 year marker which is being suggested for the release of the next HTML official recommendation is viewed as optimistic, and the fact that support doesn’t yet exist for large parts of older projects (like CSS 3) suggests that the glacial pace of W3C’s movement won’t effect the practicing developer for a good decade.

The new HTML working group is open, so anybody can hypothetically become active in the development of these new specifications.

In principle, I find the possibility of a new generation of HTML pretty exciting. There are so many basic things which HTML could do natively which currently require complex work arounds…but the fact is that the W3C is really not the main issue.

No matter how quickly W3C can turn around their new specifications, they will have no bearing on practical web development until they’ve been absorbed into the functionality of the next generation of web browsers. And, for a standards-based development practice, they still won’t really be usable until the previous generation has substantively diminished in market share. I’d love it if the W3C established new recommendations quickly: but I’ll be happier if they do a job which is clear enough that the recommendations have at least an even chance of being implemented quickly and correctly.

I don’t fault the W3C for taking a long time. I hardly see that rushing the job would really help — nonetheless, I’m not really very excited about the fact that they’ve established a new working group. This is not the moment which is practically meaningful. Personally, I’m saving my excitement for announcements from browser vendors — when I see press releases indicating full support for HTML 5, XHTML 2, CSS 3 or any other development in web technology coming from the Internet Explorer team, from the Firefox development team, from Safari or from Opera, then I’ll be interested.

But I still won’t really be excited until I see them all. Sure, you can use the cool CSS 3 support which Mozilla has built into Firefox — but I generally avoid these custom elements. If I want to use a browser’s custom developments, I’ll just write in the <blink> element. The real value to the advance implementation of support using custom selectors, in my mind, is the knowledge that the behaviors of these selectors are being tested. Any luck and once it’s time for them to become mainstream, the browser development teams who’ve made use of these will be ready to launch that much sooner.

As a note, if you’re interested (as I am) about the current progress on CSS recommendations, it’s worth keeping up on.

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1 Comment to “New W3C HTML Working Group…but who cares?”

  1. For the record I am not excited and I do not care. I have come on board of standards etc late compared to most BUT I fail to see what the fuss is all about. From my pov all I see is announcements and hot air being blown around. When I actually see something worth while then, then I will be excited…..

    Until then, who gives a rip.