Alternatives to the W3C

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Mon Jan 17 16:36:57 GMT 2000

At 11:02 AM 1/17/00 -0500, David Megginson wrote:
>It might be a lot more useful to start by getting an informal group of
>2-4 vendors or developers together, publishing a simple, open spec,
>and providing interoperable software that implements it.  If the world
>needs it, it will jump at it, and then you can hand over the spec to a
>standards body for formalization; otherwise, the world will simply

This is a good, practical idea, but I'm not sure it'll spawn new and
continuous activity.  SAX is the classic example of a continuing project,
blessed both with genuine community interest and a maintainer who takes it

I'd like to think that XML-dev is enough of an organization to extend this
model to other fields, like defining best practices for namespaces
interoperability, but I'm not sure a mailing list alone is enough, even one
with as many resources as XML-dev.  I'm encouraged by sites like
SourceForge, but so far that seems much more oriented to software rather
than spec development.

>Note how much of what we use was developed or is being developed this
>way (a small group of developers or vendors, a public spec, and
>running software first; formal standardization afterwards, if demand
>warrants): consider HTML, ECMAScript, Java and its dependent specs (I
>hope, if we can even pry Sun's fingers loose), SAX, OpenGL, and so on.

If the W3C were willing to take the approach of adjudicating among
standards developed by smaller groups, rather than building things in-house
behind closed doors, I think this model would work very well for the Web.
As it is, we've got a closed standardization process that rarely focuses on
'running software first'. Anyone got a good CSS2 implementation?  XSL-FOs?
(At least Amaya provides some real support for XHTML.)

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
Cookies / Sharing Bandwidth

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