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

Published on June 15, 2007 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

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

These worries and the respective criticism look 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 to HTML (formerly addressed by the WHATWG, currently addressed by the new HTML Working Group), and there appears to be need for a more sustained development of the CSS standard.

Let’s all contribute to the needed 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 back and a thorough revision of these standards, mainly for quality control (unfortunately, the W3C process doesn’t even allow to fix typos once a spec is stable) and implementation. For years we’ve been in such a hurry to update and extend standards that we don’t seem to notice that our complaints about missing or wrong implementations might be caused by exactly that rush. (Current problems and criticism may make this sound ironic, but it’s not.)

Sure, there’s a strong need to fix the specs, but we’ll benefit from a time where we explicitly want just two things: high quality and rest. A “spec freeze” would also allow us to shift some attention to learning and teaching standards.

Someday, let’s take a break.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!

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’m familiar with 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 the errata, and I deem 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.