This article is co-written with Vlad Alexander, co-founder and in charge of development at Belus Technology, the company behind the highly successful XStandard WYSIWYG editor.
Web Standards are failing to break into mainstream development because the Web Standards community does not speak with a unified voice. When Web designers, Web Developers, IT managers and software vendors find information about Web Standards, instead of a succinct common approach, there are endless discussions and flame wars driven by individual interpretations of what the specs mean. So instead of getting the information they need, they see bickering over the importance of valid markup, nit-picking over DOCTYPE and MIME types, and squabbles over the role of accessibility.
Of course, debates about Web standards are healthy, and it’s natural that Web developers should consider some aspects of Web development to be more important than others. However, we need to agree on core Web Standards values that everyone can trust because they represent the consensus of opinion of the developer community. This does not mean that we should stop debating amongst ourselves, but newcomers to Web Standards need the confidence that comes from knowing that there is a single, agreed-upon approach to implementing Web Standards.
So how do we arrive at this single, agreed-upon understanding of what Web Standards are?
We compromise. And we locate our core Web Standards values in one place – WaSP.
We therefore ask that WaSP put together a task force to create a Web Standards Charter. The Charter will define what Web Standards are and recommend a single implementation approach. When necessary the Charter will be updated as dictated by the current state of the art and the latest best practices.
The Web Standards community will then be able to direct newcomers to the Charter as a solid starting point from which they can proceed to implement standards-compliant projects with confidence.
Once they have gained confidence, newcomers can join us in ongoing debates about Web Standards, adding to the strength and diversity of our community.