Buzz Archive: August 2002

Building A Better Lizard

Mozilla 1.1 has been officially released, and now stalks the countryside spreading improved support for CSS, HTML and DOM. In addition to a number of DHTML-targeted performance enhancements, Mozilla sports a suite of cool developer tools (like the ever-improving Venkman JavaScript debugger and DOM Inspector) and welcome user interface features (such as tabbed browsing, a choice of search engines, and control over pesky popup windows and images). Mozilla is quickly losing its geeky reputation and becoming a browser worthy of the masses.

Found a glitch? The Mozilla organization allows users to submit bug reports online. As always, be sure to validate your HTML and CSS (which we're confident you do on a regular basis) before submitting bug reports.

But it will be unexciting and I will lose customers...wrong!

The W3C Quality Assurance Interest Group has released How to achieve Web standards and quality on your Web site?, a useful set of talking points for dealing with those who pooh-pooh the idea of standards compliance for various reasons. Thanks to Matthew Farrand for the heads up.

W3C to Write Clearer Guidelines?

Yesterday, August 26, 2002, the Quality Assurance (QA) Working Group released a Working Draft of the specification guidelines for QA Framework. The goal of this document is to provide a framework for all Working Groups within the W3C to write "clearer, more implementable, and better testable technical reports."

Will this honestly result in W3C documents that are clearer to the public? It's difficult to say, but one irony is that while this framework is considerably more clear than some W3C information, it still contains many of the problems that the document is seeking to address!

Check out the QA Framework Specification Guidelines and decide for yourself.

BT Does Not Own the Web

British Telecom has lost a bid to assert patent ownership over hyperlinks. This is good news for the Web, as an open and royalty-free medium.

4.6 out of 100 W3C Members Comply

Do W3C member organizations follow W3C recommendations? Marko Karppinen wanted to know. Six months ago, Marko tested all 506 W3C member sites and found that only 18 used valid HTML or XHTML. Put another way, only 3.7% of W3C members followed W3C recommendations. Put yet another way, 96.3% of W3C member sites ignored W3C standards. Marko vowed to run his tests every six months.

Yesterday he ran the test again. Of 467 current W3C members (of which 454 have websites), 21 sites—or 4.6%—used valid HTML, up 24% from the February test. Put another way, today only 95.4% of W3C members ignore W3C standards. Isn’t that thrilling? Can’t you feel the progress? (Neither can we.) Members with valid sites include Opera Software, Motorola, and the HTML Writers Guild, Inc. We salute them and we salute Marko for creating and publishing his test. Let’s hope the results improve six months from now.

Opera 7 all new engine? “Better” DOM support?

That's what Paul Festa reports in his August 20th article, Opera casts off legacy code for speed. Many of us have hoped that Opera would listen to the numerous complaints about lack of DOM support for their otherwise very good browser. Many developers out there may feel that Paul's article would have been more accurate if he'd stated that Opera will finally support the DOM, though, since support has been quite disappointing to this point. I'm personally thrilled to hear this promising news, and I'm sure many developers out there look forward to this big improvement in Opera's otherwise excellent browser. I also hope their new rendering engine continues to be fast.

(See Opera's DOM documentation for details, Peter-Paul Koch's notes, or my review of Opera 6 last February.)

Paul also talked to Monte Hurd, a systems architect in Clearwater, Fla:

"Opera and other Microsoft competitors would do better to support the technologies that the market-leading Internet Explorer browser made available, rather than focusing on industry standards.

" 'What these other browser makers should do is stop complaining about what Microsoft is doing and start supporting what Microsoft is supporting,' Hurd said. 'People out there aren't reading these specs; they're using IE.' "

I suspect we could have an interesting conversation. After all, Microsoft provides continually improving standards support with their browsers, Microsoft is a W3C member, they're actively involved in numerous W3C committees and activities, and they have also openly supported standards for awhile now, even though they also have proprietary goodies of their own.

So, according to Hurd's logic, since Microsoft supports standards, perhaps he ought to also consider supporting standards. Just an idea.

Aside from Microsoft's involvement with standards, there really are good reasons to consider standards but I guess he doesn't know about that yet.

Paul also states that the DOM is "an emerging standard technology that lets scripts, like JavaScript, act on individual elements of a Web page." From my vantage point this 4-year-old technology with its 3rd generation under development is no longer a new and emerging technology. DOM Level 1 is dated October, 1998 and provided support for XML 1.0 and HTML 4.0. DOM Level 2 is dated November 2000 and extended support for XML 1.0 with namespaces, added support for CSS. DOM Level 3 is currently under development (due for completion soon) and will add further support for XML 1.0.

Hurd and I do agree on one point, at least, that we like Opera and look forward to its DOM support and other improvements.

Hotmail Versus Mozilla

Justin Skolnick points out that Hotmail, or more properly, Passport, is rejecting Mozilla (gif) as not being a "current Web browser". Funny, you'd think that after four and a half years, Microsoft would have heard of Mozilla by now. Or maybe they're just upset about the whole AOL/Mac thing...

AOL now with Gecko!

AOL released a new version of their software that is based on Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine, for the Macintosh. A good sign for those who want to build a single site that works in AOL and in standards-compliant browsers.

Bank Idiocy

At home in Canada I bank with a perfectly respectable institution called CIBC, been a customer for a while, even use their online stockbroker.

Until now. I've switched to a Macintosh and none of the browsers on OS X (IE, Mozilla, you name it) can get into the online trading site. These turkeys have obviously written not just browser-specific but OS-specific code in.

I can't find words to express how stupid this is. They've lost one customer.

The Webmonkey Talks Standards

Paul Boutin has written a wonderful new article for Webmonkey: Web Standards for Hard Times. In it, Paul makes the case for using standards (it actually saves time and money!), explains the ins and outs of the the DOCTYPE declaration, and preaches the importance of validating your markup and CSS. And plus, he links to a ton of resources you'll find useful as you work towards making your web pages standards compliant. The WaSP is happy today!

Bobby Bought

Bobby, the accessibility validator created by, has been acquired by Watchfire, maker of web management solutions. (Hat tip: Tiffany Brown.)

CSS 2.1

As if XHTML 2.0, XHTML 1.0 2/e, and the prospect of tableless search portals was not enough for you, now there is a new version of the CSS 2 Recommendation for your perusal.


The W3C has published the XHTML 2.0 Working Draft. No DTDs or Schemae yet, but they say they will be forthcoming once the language stabilizes. It is worth noting that the introduction explicitly states that it is not intended to be backwards compatible with the earlier versions of HTML and XHTML. Check it out.

New Zealand Promotes Web Standards

New Zealand's e-government initiative has published its Web Guidelines, which include an endorsement of the use of standards such as CSS, XML, and the WAI, the Web Accessibility Initiative. Thanks to Richard Hulse for the pointer.

One of the common complaints about building Web applications (either client-side or those that use both client and server as platforms for development) is the difficulty that comes along with debugging them. In the cover story in this month's New Architect, this correspondent discusses some tips for managing the debugging process.

Ars Technica Reviews Mozilla

Ars Technica has released a detailed review of Mozilla, not just from the perspective of whether it is good enough to make you finally switch to a browser that understands and supports Web standards, but also discusses whether it is a success as a product of their original mission. Contains a great overview of XML, CSS, and other technologies as well. Not to be missed.

XHTML 1.0, Second Edition

XHTML 1.0 Second Edition has left the building. It’s not a revision to XHTML, but simply the latest version of W3C’s official documentation about the XHTML 1.0 standard. Among other things, this version finally includes a warning about the optional XML declaration that wreaks havoc with many browsers old and new. XHTML 1.0 (“XML Lite”) is a reformulation of HTML 4 as an XML 1.0 application and the current W3C recommendation for markup.