Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

3 September 2003

I just found this enjoyable analogy: Nobody would accept that a bank teller, for instance, only speak an unintelligible lingo, so nobody should accept that a website only speak a bastardized, non-W3C-validated version of HTML. What I like about this analogy is that, precisely, the evolution of language hasn’t been dictated by the government (nor by the dictionary makers), but by usage. If HTML evolution wasn’t dictated by the W3C (nor the Internet Explorer makers) but by usage, we wouldn’t be ending up using Flash or PDF when we want to have some kind of control over presentation.

I may expand about this after Alias.

P.S. I’ll detail one aspect of my idea. When I write about usage, I don’t mean what Microsoft does with its browser (to keep the analogy, it’s as if your word processor started automatically converting your text into slang), but what’s wanted and asked for by the language users, those who express themselves, the webdesigners. And what they want, as everybody knows, is more control over display, presentation, everything that’s quite imperfectly brought by Flash and Acrobat, and explains the plugins’ growing footprint on the web despite their flaws.

Why do I proudly display the invalidity of my markup? What’s my beef against W3C? (I’m coming back to this topic because I realize that, in my latest posts about this, I kinda lost my point myself.) I simply disagree with the current ideology that expects every document on the web to be accessible, without modification, for any possible reader, any possible format. That’s absurd on two counts.

First because, by now, every site of any interest (i.e., any site but personal sites — and that’s not even true anymore with blogs) is generated by scripts, either at display time or when content is added, and this means that the cost of making a parallel, light version of documents is far outweighed by the design restraints imposed by single-version accessibility. (Evidence: the existence of Flash sites with a text version, or the many newspapers that provide printable versions of their articles.)

Second because the organization and volume of contents mustn’t be the same whatever the medium: for instance, a blog home page can easily display the twenty or thirty latest articles on a computer screen, but will be a pain to load and read over a cellphone, no matter how much it uses CSS. Different medium, different content.

Oh, but I know all too well that standard aficionados are way beyond any kind of rational argument, and they won’t change their minds. The only option we’re left with is waiting for a group to fork the HTML standard into a design-oriented language. A mix of HTML, Flash and Acrobat. Of course, considering that Mozilla is the home of standardists, and that Microsoft won’t significantly update Exploder (I’ll leave the typo/slip, it’s nice), spreading this would be hard. Maybe with a plugin, provided it’s lighter than Acrobat.

We should hurry anyway, before Macromedia realizes that Flash could very well take over the market if it was developed in the right direction.

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