WCAG, HTML, and CSS: Maybe the Standards Need a Break
Post from June 15, 2007 (↻ July 4, 2016), reflecting Jens the Developer.
This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved e-book: On Web Development.
These worries and respective criticism look legitimate and valid—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 to HTML (formerly addressed by the WHATWG, currently addressed by the new HTML Working Group, orchestrated by the W3C), and finally, there appears to be need for the sustained development of the CSS standard.
Let’s all try to contribute to the necessary improvements, yet 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.)
Sure, there’s a particularly strong need to fix certain spec parts, but we’ll benefit from a time where we explicitly want just two things: QA and rest. A “spec freeze” would also allow us to focus more on learning and teaching standards.
Someday, let’s take a break.
About the Author
Jens Oliver Meiert is a German philosopher and developer (Google, W3C, O’Reilly). He experiments with arts and adventure. Here on meiert.com he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.
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.)
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.
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.
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.