Alternatives to the W3C

Didier PH Martin martind at
Thu Jan 20 15:51:45 GMT 2000

Hello Ann,

Ann said:
Sure they are. The minute you say "you must use <arbitrary browser/software
here>" for an application being served over a medium that was designed to
be machine/platform/software independent, you've created an artificial

Didier replies:
Ann, I am still trying to fully understand the implications of requiring
that document are to be able to be decoded in any browser. The reality being
that actually one browser is improving and that the others (a) either do not
have the money and resource to follow the W3C productivity (b) have the
money but are in a kind of limbo doing very little improvements. This all
implies that we have to target the least denominator. So, it also implies
that no progress is made, that the web reached a stagnant plateau. It also
implies that we may be in trouble to believe that XML will make it since not
all browsers will support XML before at certain time (couple years). This is
puzzling me.

>From a other point of view I guess that Len and Dave are right because
thinking of the web as an homogeneous entity is no longer true. There are
market segments, people who need different things, have different tools.
Seeing the Web as a huge melting pot is probably not the right way to see
it. This is an hypothesis but maybe, little by little the web will becomes
several webs. For instance, on my desktop I am part of the Real audio
network, part of the ICQ network. It seems that all these network providers
choused a different place to reside on my machine (the tray bar). I am also
part of other networks that are embedded in applications, in tools like for
instance Personal finance software. In fact, this latter embeds a browser
component but uses the most advanced features. Also, I am part of a new
bread of networks like, In this case, these guys
choused to used the most advanced features of browsers. I was using with a 28.8K modem and got really dragged by the slow reaction
of this service, but when I moved to cable modem, I got a totally different
experience. So, my guess is that the web melting pot utopia may lead the
place to the personalized network or something more targeted to the needs of
particular groups. This implies that their tools have to be different,
better, to be differentiated. The good point is that because most of these
tools are free, there is no market friction. So, if I cannot access these
features it is simply because I do not want to download these tools. Not
because I have not access to. I am obviously not talking here of people who
cannot access the information because of some physical limitations.

And on the other hand, I am surprised to see how some manufacturers having
big and deep pockets and doing everything to punch Microsoft at a federal
court do not help create some healthy competition to the Microsoft browser
by participating to the Mozilla project. They are often big mouth about Open
Software, standards, etc.. but with no real concrete actions. Waht would be
the cost for IBM or SUN to provide 5 developers each to the Mozilla project?
If you pay close attention, you'll see that most of the developers are
coming from Netscape or small group or individual that contributes to the
project. It is these people who can make it so that we have competition and
standard compliance. Also, how a small manufacturer can create a browser if
this is to be distributed as a free tool. I guess that the Opera people can
tell us how hard it is to struggle in that kind of market environment. So,
the SUNs and IBMs of this world do not help us to have the freedom of
choice. And the groups like Mozilla trying to make it so are struggling
getting the resources to make it so. It took nearly a decade for Linux to
become what it is today. Will it take a decade for Mozilla to become a
viable choice?

Funny world isn't it?

Didier PH Martin
Email: martind at
Conferences: Web New York (
Book to come soon: XML Pro published by Wrox Press

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