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Web Standards are Important and Here’s Why

January 26th, 2009

It feels like Web Standards have always just existed, but they’ve only been around since the 90′s. Today, they’re the default for cross-browser compatible web applications. However; some people still like to talk them down – fingers are pointed at ambiguities within the written specifications, imperfections, and various edge cases between browser implementations (most of which can thankfully be resolved through test suites and browser vendor collaboration). Today, if you’re not embracing Web Standards, then you’re missing a bigger point.

The importance of Web Standards lies in its unified language. Web Standards offer a common paradigm, a starting point, they’re intended to be built upon / extended, and (like everything else we’ve created as a species) they’re not perfect. Web Standards and the Object Paradigm (Object Oriented Design / Object Oriented Programming) share these similarities. Eric Evans describes the value of the Object Paradigm to be its widespread adoption, not its technical superiority:

Today, the object paradigm also has some significant circumstantial advantages deriving from its maturity and widespread adoption … Objects are already understood by a community of thousands of developers, project managers, and all the other specialists involved in project work. – Eric Evans, Domain Driven Design

On a similar thought Bill Bryson describes the dark ages of chemistry – before standardized conventions and the periodic table was formed:

chemists for so long worked in isolation, conventions were slow to emerge. Until well into the second half of the century … Chemists also used a bewildering variety of symbols and abbreviations, often self invented … Despite the occasional tidying-up, chemistry by the second half of the century was in something of a mess … [Mendeleyev] began toying with a way to arrange the elements … thanks to Mendeleyev’s invention [the periodic table], chemistry was now on a firm footing. – Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Today, Web Standards are understood by a community of thousands of developers, designers, project managers, and most of the other specialists involved in web work. Web Standards are our firm footing. Web Standards aren’t about being perfect, they’re about a common language, about working collectively towards (or at least embracing) a goal.

* photo courtesy of Andrew Walsh
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Web Standards Tags:
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