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Standards Thoughts WWW

Hindering Standards Advancement

IMO, there are two ways to hinder the advancement of Web standards:

  1. To continue legacy practices, holding back on new, better ones; and
  2. To keep inconsistencies between Web developers and designers, and user agent, tool and software developers.

Legacy Practices

I still haven’t studied much about the endianness of character encodings, but it sure is one thing I’ve seen that exhibits a legacy practice recommended by W3C. I’ve been placing a Unicode Byte-Order Mark before the output of my WordPress themes since my text editor featured its control on UTF-8 encoded files. After subjecting it to the W3C Markup Validation Service, I encountered a warning that says:

The Unicode Byte-Order Mark (BOM) in UTF-8 encoded files is known to cause problems for some text editors and older browsers. You may want to consider avoiding its use until it is better supported.

I’ve actually tried placing the BOM because Google Webmaster Tools report my site to have been encoded in ASCII even though I have set the HTTP Headers to respond, and <meta/> elements to indicate otherwise. After doing so, Google Webmaster Tools reported about 50% of my site is on UTF-8 that I concluded it reads pages’ encodings using the BOM.

The first time I’ve read that warning, an insight immediately struck me regarding legacy systems and practices. So, I just want to ask: Why are they enforcing legacy practices to be continued by Web designers and developers instead of enforcing new and current standards to be implemented by user agent, tool and software developers?

Incomplete Implementation

I’ve written much of the above article about a week ago, but it just came short of publication. I thought my so-called insight is very limited with regards to the current issues between Web and software development that I decided to postpone publication. It still would be on draft status if not for Molly Holzschlag saying just recently, HTML5 and XHTML 1.1+ MUST Stop for Now. I was puzzled why one of the most famous standardistas I look up to said that. The title would seem to mean she has just begun to dislike the improvements to Web standards. But after reading the whole article, I totally agreed. BTW, she meant:

  1. COMPLETE HTML 4.1 [sic], XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.1 in specs and browsers where applicable
  2. CALL for consistent implementation of these most basic specifications in all current browsers and devices to this point
  3. WAIT for future HTML, XHTML and CSS implementations until these implementations are complete
  4. FOCUS on JavaScript and DOM fixes and implementations as we come up to par with markup and style

The only way new Web standards would be supported is to implement completely the current and existing ones. This would also make legacy practices be needed no more. Molly didn’t say that the progression of Web standards should be stopped forever, but the terms for now should be emphasized as long as incomplete implementations exist—and she’s talking about no specific user agent as even Mozilla, Opera and Safari have no perfect support, just better ones. So … I question no more.