why standards are important

yes, HTML5 is essentially a diluted buzzword for “something shiny on the web that doesn’t use flash” – BUT – by using standards, you get to have content used in ways you haven’t predicted. For instance, Grant Hutchinson has been playing with a Newton-powered webserver (not linking directly to the server to spare it from the network) for years.

Today, he fired up the web browser on one of his Newtons, and pointed it at the Apple HTML5 showcase site. What happened? Fireworks? Crashes? Missing content? Plugin Required error messages?

Nope.

newton html5 via newtscapeGallery

The content displayed just fine, as best as could be handled by a 15 year old handheld computer. Sure, some of the bells and whistles are missing. But the site is usable.

Standards, especially ones that support graceful degradation of presentation by devices at runtime, ensure we have access to our content long after it’s built, on devices we didn’t have in mind when we built it.

If Grant were to try to view any of the content I built years ago using Director/Shockwave, or any of 47 terabytes of content built in Flash, the poor little Newton would have barfed violently.

Opaque, proprietary formats are bad. Open standards and degradable presentation are good.

13 thoughts on “why standards are important”

  1. If Grant were to try to view any of the content I built years ago using Director/Shockwave, or any of 47 terabytes of content built in Flash, the poor little Newton would have barfed violently.

    Not really a fair comparison as I would like him to try to load anything in html5 canvas… probably see the same results as Director, Shockwave, or Flash… or nothing at all.

    Opaque, proprietary formats are bad. Open standards and degradable presentation are good.

    This idea I still agree with… but ultimately, if anyone with real market share wants to screw you over you’re at their mercy. Only thing I think which has kept the web safe for now is Firefox… With Chrome we’ll see if Google wants to try to add some secret sauce to “differentiate” their browser… I think they’re on way too much Open Source rhetoric to get away with anything like that… so I guess the web is somewhat safe for proprietary crap for now.

  2. You know what’s funny about this? I tried to view the Showcase pages on my MBP in Chrome and I got this message: “You’ll need to download Safari to view this demo.This demo was designed with the latest web standards supported by Safari. If you’d like to experience this demo, simply download Safari. It’s free for Mac and PC, and it only takes a few minutes.”

    So I guess it degrades gracefully in old device, but not so much in brand-spanking new devices that are simply running the “wrong” browser. I get that this may be b/c Chrome isn’t supporting some feature of HTML5 that Apple is making use of in the Showcase, but isn’t it weird that it doesn’t then just degrade in the browser I’m using?

  3. shoot, and I meant to say that I understand this isn’t an issue with HTML5, but rather an issue with the way Apple has coded these particular showcase pages.

  4. That’s right Martha, and it is very important, especially on this particular web log, to point out just how much Apple sucks. And that thye are not pushing HTML 5 because of open standards and the like, but to screw with Adobe. This is not to say HTML 5 may not be the shizznit, but it does shine a light on the invasive summiness of apple, to borrow from D’Arcy here ;)

  5. http://whydoeseverythingsuck.com/2010/06/apple-fears-killer-app.html

    Apple claims its goal with all these rules is to keep out bad applications. But if that is the case, they are failing miserably because a lot of apps in the App Store, perhaps the majority, are total crap. Their stated rationale is, I believe, baloney. In fact, not only do I think Apple couldn’t care less about whether apps are crap, I think they love the crap, and that their goal is in fact to keep out the awesome.

    I think Apple has come to the conclusion that any killer apps for the iPhone need to be from Apple, and that those that are not from Apple are hugely dangerous.

    Why? Because if they are cross-platform Apple is not cool any more! So what keeps the platform cool is all the cool shit is on the platform… Controlling the tools is a way of keeping the cool on the platform… Of owning the developers! That’s why everyone in the 90s bought Microsoft… all the shit they wanted ran on Windows. Even the formats were incompatible. Jobs remembers that battle well… in the long run its a losing battle, but for now Jobs is raking in the billions.

    More stuff here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/11/steve_jobs_lifts_interpreted_code_ban_for_chosen_few/

        1. It’s funny you would fuck over a friendship over a brand… but just to let you know that was extremely offensive!

  6. Listen you two, this is the Summer of Love, and while we all get worked up about this company or that app. This gadget, or that , the discussion here is what makes the space. So, I just wanted to let you both know I love you, and that the evils of the inernet can only be battled by a communal love, and a sense of hope sewn together through love.

    Sing with me:

    “All we need is love. All together now… All we need is love. Love. Love is all we need”

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