Friday, May 19, 2006

Standards Nightmare

When the world wide web was conceived by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, he based the syntax for the new medium on a well know and standard, internationally approved standard called SGML (standard general markup language) - largely used in the computer document management world. He called his subset HTML - hypertext markup language. In due course this was overseen be a committee called the W3 Org, who continue to vet standards to this day.

The trouble was, committees move slowly, and the market wanted to start pushing the technology on much faster than any global consensus would allow.

The result is that the IP delivery world is full of non-standard standards which should work together, but simply don't.

We're currently going through a period where the over-riding dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer is coming to an end as browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Opera gain market share - largely because browser development has been neglected by Microsoft as they try to sort out security issues.

The problem is that no two of these browsers treat a web page in the same way. This results in a real problem for companies deploying very complex or specialized services such as an online media player.

A huge amount of time has to be spent in trial and error development, desperately trying to get what should be standard code working on the various combination of platforms and browsers.

I bring this up because Microsoft have recently launched a new beta of Internet Explorer. Naturally, many existing web pages don't quite work as well as they used to using it and users are unforgiving in expecting all of this stuff to just, well, work....

This is the price we pay for progress I guess..

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