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Keep calm and carry on (with HTML5)

  • Words: Andy Clarke

When the W3C announced that it was retreating from XHTML2 after years in the trenches, propagandists trumpeted that advocacy of XHTML had been foolish. With HTML5 again mired in corporate politics, egotism, squabbles and petty disagreements, it is easy to see why people are questioning if using or advocating HTML5 now is foolish too? At least until all parties reach some kind of armistice.

What the web needs and wants is a group working together for the best interests of the web. Right?

I used to believe that a Working Group (inside or outside the W3C framework) operated like a business where smart, dedicated people worked together for the good of the company as a whole.

I was wrong, naive and foolish.

The reality is different. W3C Working Groups are battlegrounds where ‘Pay To Play’ combatants fight war without end for their own or their employer’s (those big business entities that fund the W3C) agendas to succeed. These mercenaries care little for the needs of web designers or developers. We are civilian populations caught up in the fighting.

In the CSS Working Group (which I still follow even though I’m no longer an Invited Expert), Microsoft’s hitherto lack of progressiveness hints at their concern of adversely affecting corporate enterprise, their core business. Apple’s enthusiasm for Webkit-proposed additions to CSS3 betrays their own agenda for Flashless mobile browsing. Opera doesn’t want people who use its browser on hardware built by Nokia or Nintendo to miss out on a web decked out in rounded corners or shadows — hence their alpha Presto engine provides these and more. And so it goes on.

While HTML5’s generals play with toy soldiers, designers and developers who just want the war to be over, get on with the fight by speaking about, writing about, teaching and using HTML5. Saddening and maddening as the corporate politics, egotism, squabbles and petty disagreements in the war rooms of HTML5 are, they should not stand in the way of us using HTML5, CSS3 or indeed any other tool that makes ours, our clients and lives of people who use the web sites and applications that we make better. For that we need to use every weapon we can lay our cold hands on.

Need to wrap an anchor around block-level elements? Use HTML5 and carry on.

Want to add a shadow to a box? Use box-shadow, even though it’s temporarily not part of CSS3. Then carry on.

So specifications might change — they weren’t written for the likes of you or me in any case. When they change, rework your pages. It’s what you do anyway, either as part of an on-going iteration process or every few years.

So your pages might not validate to an experimental validator. So what?

Who cares?

Nobody dies.


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