Buzz Archive: June 2004

JavaScript and Accessibility

I have never done that well with JavaScript in general, much less properly integrating JavaScript into my work. I think that the WCAG 2.0 Scripting group might be just the solution I need. The group emerged today to help make the use of JavaScript more compatible with accessibility.

I especially like the way the group is accepting scripts:

“All submitted scripts will be packaged as modules (.js files), and tested against a wide range of browsers and assistive technologies.”

Encouraging developers to place scripts outside of their documents and testing with a wide range of user agents is sound advice whether aiming for accessibility, security, standards compliance, or just plain good web site management.

Internet Explorer Too Risky

Tired of standards woes related to IE 6.0? So are we. There's been a lot of discussion about how to handle this both at WaSP and around the Web, with some individuals taking a 'wait-and-see' stance and others suggesting an anti-IE protest.

Well, if more articles hit the commercial press as hit Business Week Online today, we won't have to argue standards at all. In an article by Stephen H. Wildstrom, Internet Explorer Is Just Too Risky, recent as well as ongoing security concerns and their impact on the consumer are explored in brutally clear terms:

“In late June, network security experts saw one of their worst fears realized. Attackers exploited a pair of known but unpatched flaws in Microsoft's Web server software and Internet Explorer browser to compromise seemingly safe Web sites. People who browsed there on Windows computers got infected with malicious code without downloading anything.

I've been growing increasingly concerned about IE's endless security problems, and this episode has convinced me that the program is simply too dangerous for routine use.”

Wildstrom also explores alternative browsers including Mozilla, Firefox, and Opera. His article provides thoughtful tips to a more mainstream audience than the one within the standards realm, encouraging folks and helping them to make the switch.

In a related but more technically-oriented article on eWeek, Internet Explorer Is Too Dangerous to Keep Using, Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols expresses the same concerns:

“In the few days that the sites provided the Trojan horses, hundreds of thousands or millions of users could have had their credit-card, stock-brokerage and bank-account numbers and passwords stolen.

Let me repeat myself: Millions of you may have every bit of your browser-driven online financial security information stolen.

Maybe this was just another massive Internet security prank. Maybe all that will happen is a DDoS attack. Well, you can hope that's all there is to it and continue to use IE. But as for me, I'm done with it.”

There is no question in my mind that the consumer has far more power than we poor schmucks fighting for Web standards. With coverage like this, we can help facilitate a more important revolution: Get people to use well-built software and let the losers dig their own graves.

Hack for Posterity

Proving yet again that she has some sort of compulsive publishing disorder, our very own Molly Holzschlag has just written a new article on Strategies for Long-Term CSS Hack Management. Style sheet hacks are a bit of a necessary evil, which can provide an easy workaround to many browsers' CSS bugs; Molly's article shows you the best way to use hacks judiciously, ensuring that your style sheets stay trim and maintainable for quite some time.

Yes, I said hack a record number of times there. I feel so 133t.

All in the zlog

zlog has just published an excellent interview with our very own Drew McLellan. Drew discusses some of the finer points of web standards, stressing some intelligent, real-world approaches to semantic markup. He also alludes that all's not as quiet on the WaSP front as it may seem, and we can definitely second that.

No mention of cinnamon buns, though. Pity.

The word for today is "Omtp"

Looks like another industry is sick and tired of a non-standard mess.

The OMTP group aims to define those platform requirements necessary for mobile devices to deliver openly available standardised application interfaces that will provide customers with a more consistent and improved user experience across different devices, whilst also enabling individual operators and manufacturers to customise and differentiate their offering.

OMTP doesn't sound like something you should say in polite company, but it sure sounds good to me. My cell phone and I wish you all the best!


Every article ever written on web standards article, in one place.

Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration since most of the links are from the past year or two. But it's safe to say that Dan Cederholm and his readers have managed to generate the most comprehensive listing ever of articles and tutorials related to standards, and in just a few days too. This is one for the bookmarks.

Ten Questions for Molly Holzschlag

In the latest of its 'Ten Questions' series, the Web Standards Group gets down to the bone with WaSP's own Molly Holzschlag.

Covering such issues as the importance of web standards, teaching CSS, and the market relevance of Movable Type, Molly discusses her current ventures, where she's headed and hints at what might be in store for WaSP too. There's even some tables vs CSS thrown in for good measure. Sounds like a recipe for cinnamon buns.

Another excellent interview from the WSG - and worthy of your time.

The IE Team Is Listening

Robert Scoble has provided a helpful list of places you can give your feedback to the Internet Explorer team. Feedback like, say, areas where IE's standards support could use a bit of TLC.

This is a great opportunity to provide some polite, useful feedback to the IE team. Stuff like lists of bugs with test cases and specific W3C recommendations and other standards to which IE should adhere is especially good. Anti-Microsoft rants are probably not so good, and are in fact counter-productive.

This is a golden opportunity for the standards community to let Microsoft know there are a whole bunch of us and we are not only reasonable, thoughtful folks with legitimate requests, but we are also their paying customers.

Mobile Test Cases

Patrick Griffiths is interested in the truth about current mobile support of HTML and CSS.

A long-standing tenet of CSS design is that a clean separation of structure and presentation ensures proper degradability; and indeed, comparing a heavily table-laden page against a CSS-driven site on many mobiles proves the latter comes up smelling like roses — provided the CSS isn’t rendered.

But as mobile device capabilities improve, what happens when designers wish to start experimenting with the “handheld” media type? Patrick’s test page sets out to find some answers. Fire up your cell phone or PDA and go contribute your results.

The Real Reason

Andrei Herasimchuk explains the real reason you should care about web standards. Buckle up, it's a long read but worth your time (especially if you're an Isaac Asimov fan.)

W3C Log Validator updated

A new version of the W3C Log Validator was announced by Olivier Thereaux yesterday on the W3C's validator mailing list. The new version (v 0.3) has added features, bug fixes, and two new modules - CSS Validation and an experimental survey module.

Do you need to convert a large web site over to Standards?

The Log Validator may be for you. The tool is a free web server log analysis available for download with focus on the quality of Web documents. The Log Validator will generate a list showing the most popular pages on a web site and check those pages for validation and quality. Using the Log Validator helps those in charge of maintaining or converting large web sites to standards by adding a focus to the frequently accessed pages that may need fixing first.

More information is available at the W3C QA -Log Validator and W3C QA - How to get the Log Validator.

Web Standards Survey

Read all about it! We have launched a WaSP Survey and a press release today, “Web Standards: Who Cares Anyway?”

Here is your chance to let our project team members know who you are and which challenges you encounter when working with or using web standards.

Don't be Shy. Please leave your comments, suggestions, or thoughts about standards use and what you would like to see or see changed that would help you most at the WaSP website. One of the best parts of this survey is the ability to speak your mind. So speak up! It won't take long, and the WaSP team is very interested in hearing from you.

Take the time, and take the WaSP Survey. We care.


The Guild of Accessible Web Designers (GAWDS) launched last week, and we'd like to welcome them to the standards advocacy block. From the press release announcing their launch:

The Guild of Accessible Web Designers marked its launch today by calling upon Web designers to embrace accessibility as the cornerstone and guiding principle of their profession.

Accessibility goes far beyond preparing Web sites for disabled people, said Jim Byrne, founder of Glasgow-based GAWDS. Accessibility is now shorthand for the adoption of core standards that benefit every user of the Internet and impact the bottom line of every business.

You'll pardon us if we pound the table a few times in hearty, enthusiastic agreement.

GAWDS' site has a burgeoning section with excellent accessibility tips for site builders, as well as information on membership if you'd like to get involved.

Election Time

Here in the Great White North we're deep in the middle of election season. Joe Clark [no, not former Prime Minister Joe Clark] and Craig Saila have compiled an "independent, nonpartisan review of Canadian political Web sites" that finds a massive disconnect between the parties running for leadership, and official accessibility standards for government sites.

Point by point, Clark and Saila have discovered that all political sites tested:

  1. do not meet Web standards, meaning their underlying code is grammatically incorrect
  2. probably work correctly in only one browser, Internet Explorer for Windows, even though not all Canadians use that browser
  3. usually don't bother identifying the language in which they are written (English or French)
  4. are somewhat inaccessible to people with disabilities

While the sites in question are not official GoC sites, and thus not subject to the official government guidelines, it's tempting to wonder how seriously one should view the campaigns of those who don't attempt to meet the standards set by the government they wish to represent.

…and answered.

So, after the gloom'n'doom of the previous post, what is the future of web standards, anyway? Exactly what the WaSP has always said it is: to help web developers do more with less, and pass those savings on to our customers.

Want proof? D. Keith Robinson has it. Keith breaks down the cost and development time for two roughly comparable projects, one developed using old-school tag soup and the other using standards. The results are striking. As a bonus, Keith also throws in an analysis of another, larger project using web standards.

That, as far as I'm concerned, is the only answer necessary: web standards save you—and your clients—time and money today. 'Nuff said.

Question asked…

In a recent post to his blog, John Allsopp of WestCiv, StyleMaster and CSS Samurai fame asks who cares about web standards? The post is a terriffic then-and-now of standards, and does a nice job of summing up the state of browser support circa spring 2004, and has sparked a good deal of discussion. John also puts forward a surprising choice for a potential David to IE's goliath: the KHTML engine used in Apple's iTunes. Intriguing though his reasoning is, I suspect Apple has other fish to fry.

More recently, Nigel McFarlane continued the meme—and the discussion—with his own, darker vision of the future of web standards. Despite some embarrassing factual gaffes (Konqueror uses KHTML as its default rendering engine, not Mozilla's Gecko as Nigel suggests), Nigel's article is also worth a ponder: are we destined for another round of browser wars? I for one sincerely hope not. The last one caused enough collateral damage, thank you very much.

Yet if we have no standard-bearing saviour on the horizon, and the browser wars are to remain an unpleasant memory, the question remains: whither web standards?

DOCTYPES at Twelve Paces

Sergio Villarreal has a great little article entitled Tables vs. CSS – A Fight To The Death over at SitePoint. It's an excellent blow-by-blow analysis of the benefits to, and drawbacks of, each approach — and naturally, CSS emerges as the author's preferred method.

That makes us all sunshine-y inside.

Where's WaSP?

This week, the Web Standards Group interviews Simon Willison, who sheds light on a question we've been challenged with in recent months: Where's WaSP? Simon helps explain:

“We're still buzzing away. There's been something of a changing of the guard, with older hands moving in to retirement and fresh blood (such as myself) moving in to take up the slack.”

As many WaSP readers know, we've been less active than usual to the public eye. Part of that has come because we are, in fact, reorganizing and redefining WaSP - no small task in a time of such tremendous change. Simon continues:

“The challenge for WaSP is to take the message to the silent millions who don't involve themselves with these communities. This is a problem that is being tackled more by WaSP members individually than WaSP as a whole; we have an impressive number of book authors on the team for example.”

All true, and important points. WaSP works on many levels, and while people have been accustomed to us being vocal and even combative, we have publically stated that's no longer our goal. Instead, we are aggressively seeking a better understanding of how we can best serve the design & development community.

Over the next months the public face of WaSP is going to be changing to reflect our own internal changes. We promise to keep you involved every step of the way.