Standards Matter

November 30, 2013

It’s easy to think that, in 2013, we live in an era where as web developers we can say that the war for web standards is over and won. After all, didn’t WASP finally declare their work as done back ┬áin March?

Of course, as they said, it isn’t that simple. As an advocacy group they’ve accomplished their job. But there’s always going to be a need for the community to fight for standards anew, in the face of corporate attempts at mono-browser culture or lazy developers looking to make shortcuts at the expense of accessibility and future compatibility.

As the web continues to fracture into not only multiple browsers, but a wider and wider variety of form factors and devices, from toast to televisions, from watches to phones, standards, and the advocacy of them, become even more important. We’re not just talking about making a site’s CSS look good in four browsers, or ensuring a site is usable for people with accessibility challenges. We’re talking about ensuring our sites, our clients sites, and the sites we use every day being available for use in situations we wouldn’t have needed to consider even six years ago.

Challenges like this make web standards, and events like Blue Beanie Day, relevant even in 2013. And, probably, forever. It’s a challenge that we’ll constantly face as the medium grows and evolves along with our relationship with technology.

Dylan Wilbanks and I spoke about this topic a couple weeks back on Squirrel and Moose, where we discussed in particular an area of increasing importance and debate in the web standards world: that of solutions for responsive images in HTML. The Responsive Images Community Group, chaired by the brilliant, seemingly tireless, and ever entertaining Mat Marquis. A true example of the spirit of the Internet, led by “working class” developers instead of browser manufacturers, who seek solutions to the very real problems they have in their day-to-day work on the web, the RICG is making big strides in ensuring that the HTML of tomorrow will actually meet our needs.

And to me, that’s mighty fine, and means Mat and his compatriots are bona fide Internet Heroes. If there were some sort of Blue Beanie award, I’d nominate them. Instead I suppose we could invent folk tales involving flapjacks and giant blue oxen.

Keep up the good work.

 

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