Why do we write standards?

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Wed Nov 10 19:01:44 GMT 1999

Don Park wrote:
> But we are not talking about wild wild west where anything goes.
> We already have the following specs in various states which places,
> imho, sufficient level of constraints in the past and in the future
> to guide the lost and to punish the rebels.

> HTML 4.0 specification
> XHTML 1.0

These specifications *do not apply* to XHTML mixed with other
specifications. They don't say what it means to have a TITLE in a FOOBAR
in a table. They just don't answer the relevant question!

> XHTML 1.1 - Module-based XHTML
> Modularization of XHTML
> Building XHTML Modules

Great. When these specifications are done, we can standardize a

> I am as frustrated as a dirt covered sergent in the middle of a
> battlefield who has just been told that he will have to wait for
> the bullets because the manufacturers have standards to consider
> for field inter-operability.

This is the bewildering part Don. You are smarter than to wait for an
HTML namespace in order to use HTML-ish element types. Shoot your damn,
non-standard gun. Build your html-ish applications. Win the war! People
have been doing it for five years. The water is fine. Jump in!

All I ask is that you don't *pretend* that you are doing something
interoperable by sprinkling the magic pixie dust of "namespaces" over
your document type. Without the magic of real, formal standards behind
the dust it's just, well, dust. 

A namespace without a formal definition is not just *useless* -- it is
WORSE THAN USELESS because it encourages the impression of
interoperability without the reality.

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself

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