Alternatives to the W3C

rev-bob at rev-bob at
Thu Jan 20 15:37:01 GMT 2000

> > > We've had this discussion at length on my site, and reached a conclusion.
> > > There are two types of developers in the world:
> > >
> > > 1. Web developers, who must look at the content exactly as their users look
> > > at it. For these people, today, that's MSIE 5.x on Windows, not any content
> > > handler, that specific one.

Any Web developer who is confident that he can "look at the content exactly as their 
users look at it" is either fooling himself or being perniciously exclusive in his coding 
practices.  Which are you?

WYSIWYG just isn't a viable concept where (X|HT|XHT)ML is concerned, and it 
never was; the notions of interoperability and WYSIWYG authoring are inherently 
opposed to each other.  The best you can do on the Web is make an educated guess - 
and I have news for you; "everyone's using IE5" just isn't even close to right.

Furthermore, why must a Web developer have exact-look control of their content?  
Granted, it'd be nice sometimes, but "must" just isn't warranted.  I get visitors using 
everything from Lynx to StarOffice to IE/NN - and no one view is going to show me 
what all those people are seeing.  Even if I get all those platforms running in my office 
(requiring a minimum of two Winboxes just for IE3 and IE4/5), I'll most likely have 
things configured differently than you will - and certainly some of my users will be 
making different config options.

That's why (X|HT|XHT)ML doesn't even try to give control at that fine a level.  
Markup is supposed to be semantic, or at least to give it a fair shot.  Once you hit that 
area, you can start applying styles logically and consistently, in an effort to provide a 
similar experience to all your users.  I do think the market is so diverse at this point that 
serious site development requires either some form of server-side scripting or extremely 
basic design - just to sort out who's using what or to decide that your design level is so 
basic that the UA doesn't matter.  I opt for the former, and iHTML gets high marks 
from me in that field.

> > > 2. Everyone else.

I noticed you didn't even try to guess which of these groups was larger, or by how 
much.  In my experience, #2 is by far the largest group of Web developers; the 
Exploderheads are barely even on the map in comparison.
> > > I could try to explain why this is so, but previous debates make me
> > > reluctant to try, so I won't.
>   I will.  Reliability.  You are version bound for the
>  same reason the proprietary system gets good reliability numbers:  a
>  single codebase under version control and compiled by configurable
>  processes but predictable processes.  You use a named component.
>  Important.  It is named for the codebase; not the spec.

I'll let you in on a little secret - single codebase does not translate to single supported 
platform.  I have a single base of documents that gets compiled and uploaded as a dual 
base (HTML/XHTML) and is further customized at serve time according to the 
requesting UA.  Lynx gets some stuff a little different, and if you look at the style sheets 
for the XHTML code under Mozilla vs. IE5, you'll find that they change to suit the 
browser.  (Mozilla and IE use different mapping between CSS font sizes and the <font 
size=x> sizes, so getting a consistent result requires detecting which browser is in use 
and adjusting to use its mapping.)
>  Sniffer scripts??????

Required, IMO.  The above CSS-morph is just one example; Q is another that comes to 
mind.  ("Do I insert quote marks manually, or trust Q to do it?"  There's no one right 
answer - so use sniff-based server-side scripting to make sure that you can give each 
UA the right answer.  Yeah, it's work - but if you care about Getting It Right for your 
users, it's necessary.)

By the way, a request to the list.  If any of you have either IE 3.02a/Win9x or 
IE3.0/AOL4.0/Win3.1 installed somewhere, I would appreciate it if you could visit my 
site and let me know of any problems you encounter.  I'm seeing some strange things in 
my logs tied to these browsers and its interpretation of CSS, but I don't know if this 
translates to user problems...and without another box I can set up for IE3, I can't test it 
myself.  Just swing by and let me know what 
you see, what time you visited, and - if you know - what IP you're coming from (so I 
can compare your input with the server logs for your visit); this would be extremely 
helpful.  As a checkpoint, you *should* see a paper-style background behind each 
"classified ad" on that page - specified via <div class> referencing an internal style sheet.

 Rev. Robert L. Hood  |
  Get Off The Cross!  |

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