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   XHTML and the politics of cooperation and interoperability

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  • To: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Subject: XHTML and the politics of cooperation and interoperability
  • From: "Chuck White" <chuck@tumeric.net>
  • Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 08:21:19 -0800
  • Thread-index: AcKVaN1RF2tDkhlTRJyHJNj0c88HkA==
  • Thread-topic: XHTML and the politics of cooperation and interoperability

There have been some interesting discussions about the merits of XHTML
and SVG vis a vis Flash (which is actually a discussion I don't quite
understand, since XHTML/HTML serves a completely different purpose than

In the old days, specs were driven by vendors. Netscape would come out
with a new HTML element, and the W3C would have to play catch-up. 

Today, the reverse is true. The W3C *seems* light years ahead of
vendors. What has been missing from the recent discussions? Well, I
haven't seen the major vendors weighing in yet. I know their
representatives read this list. Why the silence?

We hear the argument that, for example, the dominant browser vendor
won't support this or that vocabulary. Or that Adobe won't incorporate
another, or Macromedia isn't interested in something else. Yet, they are
all members of the W3C, and usually even have representatives listed as
authors and/or editors of the recommendations we see discussed on this

Maybe I'm working from a false premise here. I had assumed that one of
the W3C's goals was interoperability. I am not familiar with the bylaws
of the W3C, or even of any mission statement, but interoperability has
certainly been *at least* implied from the W3C's public pronouncements.

Take a look at the author list of the SVG recommendation, for example:


There is Microsoft, who can't seem to let go of VML, and Macromedia, who
*seems*, from their silence on SVG, to be afraid of the very vocabulary
they helped create. 

Where is the interoperability here? What is the point of having
"standards" if the major vendors, who helped write them, aren't willing
to abide by them?

We hear the argument that Internet Explorer won't support XHTML the way
it could. Why?


MS was represented when the vocabulary was developed. So what's the

Part of the reason for developing XHTML, the DOM, and CSS, at least if
my interpretation of public pronouncements is accurate, was to correct
the road accident that was DHTML. But today's mess seems like a
Babel-like confluence of standards that requires an encyclopedic support
matrix if you want to actually deploy any of it.

I pray this won't lead to another Microsoft-bashing thread. We've heard
enough of that, and most of our opinions regarding Microsoft's support
or non-support of standards have been formed. What I'm interested in
knowing is why representatives from vendors are not weighing in on their
plans for supporting the new standards that seem to emerge every day
from the W3C. 

My next question is probably going to be, why doesn't the W3C slow down
a little, and give us all a chance to breathe? Maybe the questions are

Chuck White
Author, Mastering XSLT, Sybex Books
Co-Author, Mastering XML Premium Edition, Sybex Books


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