Jens Oliver Meiert

WCAG, HTML, and CSS: Maybe the Standards Need a Break

Post from June 15, 2007 (↻ March 30, 2016), reflecting Jens the .

This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved e-book: On Web Development.

The web development community worries about the development of WCAG, HTML, and CSS (the latter quite recently).

These worries and the related criticism appear to be valid and legitimate—there are problems with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (hopefully being addressed by the WCAG Working Group, alternatively addressed by the WCAG Samurai), there’s demand for an update of HTML (formerly addressed by the WHATWG, currently addressed by the new HTML Working Group, orchestrated by the W3C), and finally, there appear to be questions concerning the development of the CSS standard.

Let’s all try to contribute to the demanded improvements, but we’ll probably benefit from a break soon after the release of WCAG 2.0, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

Why? By then (2010?), there will be need for a look backwards and a thorough revision of these standards, mainly meaning additional quality assurance (unfortunately, the W3C process doesn’t even allow to fix typos once a spec is stable) and, above all, time for implementors. For years we’ve all been in a hurry to update and extend standards that we don’t seem to notice that our complaints about missing or false implementations might be caused by exactly that rush. (Current problems and criticism might make this sound ironic, but it’s not meant to be.)

Sure, there’s partially strong need to fix certain spec parts, but we’ll certainly benefit from a time where we explicitly want just two things: QA and rest. At the same time a “spec freeze” could allow us to focus more on learning and teaching standards.

So someday, let’s take a break.

About the Author

Jens Oliver Meiert, photo of December 23, 2015.

Jens Oliver Meiert is a German philosopher and developer (Google, W3C, O’Reilly). He experiments with arts and adventure. Here on he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.

There’s more Jens in the archives and at Amazon. If you have any questions or concerns (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.

Comments (Closed)

  1. On June 15, 2007, 11:08 CEST, Jens Oliver Meiert said:

    Interestingly, Molly Holzschlag posted a similar entry, HTML 5 and XHTML 1.1+ must stop for now… Something’s going on. (I wrote this post’s draft on Tuesday.)

  2. On June 15, 2007, 12:05 CEST, Karl Dubost, W3C said:

    You said: “(unfortunately, the W3C process doesn’t even allow to fix typos once a spec is stable …)”

    That is plain wrong. It is called erratas and it is perfectly defined. Looked on the HTML 4.01 spec.

    I have replied to Molly on the QA Weblog: Fixing the Web together.

  3. On June 15, 2007, 12:23 CEST, Jens Oliver Meiert said:

    Hi Karl—I know the process, but from my point of view at least typos should be fixed. Within respective documents, not errata. That’s why I didn’t mention them.

    For example, 1999’s Accessibility Features of CSS contains several errors I noted two years ago. They never got fixed, not even within errata, and I deem things like this problematic.

  4. On June 15, 2007, 14:48 CEST, Richard Ishida said:

    Hi Jens. Note also that errata can be brought into the specification via the PER part of the process. For example, the XML spec is currently in its 4th edition. HTH.

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