Who Cares About Standards


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A talk I did at the first London WSG meeting in 2006 about the history of the screw.

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Who Cares About Standards

  1. 1. Who Cares About Standards? by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 1
  2. 2. A Brief History of Standards by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 2
  3. 3. Early Standards • Stones used as a unit of weight in 7th century BC Egypt • In 1120 King Henry I created the ell unit of length • Meter first used in 1797 by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 3
  4. 4. However, the history of modern standards… …is the history of the screw by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 4
  5. 5. Invented by the Greeks in 5th Century BC • The “Archimedes Screw” was used to draw water and irrigate farms • Screws were used to press clothes, olives and wine • Romans created the first wood screws from bronze or silver • Screws were lost with the fall of the Roman Empire by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 5
  6. 6. Rediscovered during the Renaissance • First written reference in the 1400s • Used in the Guttenburg Press • Leonardo Da Vinci influenced by the screw by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 6
  7. 7. Not all screws were made equal • Screws were hand turned and each one was different • Nuts and bolts had to be matched by hand • Impractical and Inefficient by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 7
  8. 8. The Lathe • Leonardo Da Vinci designed a screw cutting machine • First actual machine built by Jaques Besson in 1568 • The modern lathe was created in 1797 by Henry Maudsley by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 8
  9. 9. This all changed thanks to Sir Joseph Whitworth • Whitworth was Henry Maudsleys apprentice • Became foreman in Charles Babbage’s engineering works • Suggested the first screw standards in 1841 •By 1860 the Whitworth screw was in general use in Great Britain by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 9
  10. 10. The American Standard • On 21st April 1864, William Sellers proposed a new US standard screw thread • By 1883, most US railroads used the Sellers thread • Britain adopted this thread towards the end of World War 2 • Became one of the first official standards • Today there are over 800,000 different standards by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 10
  11. 11. What are standards? by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 11
  12. 12. Definition 1: An agreed set of rules or characteristics 12
  13. 13. Standards are all around us Standard units such as the meter, kilogram and second Standard screw fittings such as quot;slottedquot; and quot;Phillips Standard bed sizes such as double, queen and king Standard media formats such as VHS, CD and DVD 13
  14. 14. Benefits of standards Standards ease communication. e.g. You can tell somebody the train station is 100m away and they know how far you mean. Standards encourage interoperability. e.g. You plug your DVD player into your TV and you know it will work. Standards make life easier. e.g. You can buy a toaster without having to worry that the plug will fit your socket 14
  15. 15. Definition 2: An agreed measure of quality 15
  16. 16. Standards are all around us British standard kite mark International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Chartered accountant or engineer Hotel star rating PADI 5 star diving centre EU energy rating Michelin star CORGI registered gas fitter 16
  17. 17. Benefits of standards Standards ensure safety and durability. e.g. Goods or services with a BSI kite mark should be safe and fit for purpose. Standards guarantee a level of expertise. e.g. To become a chartered accountant, you have to have achieved a certain level of experience and knowledge. Standards are a mark of professionalism. e.g. Though not required to teach diving, being a PADI instructor shows that you are a professional. 17
  18. 18. Types of standards Official De-facto Open Proprietary 18
  19. 19. What’s this got to do with the web? by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 19
  20. 20. Browser Wars The languages that power the web were developed over time by the browser manufacturers By creating their own standards, they hoped to force out the competition By the mid 90s many websites were browser specific 20
  21. 21. The March to Standards The W3C created a set of language recommendations Developer pressure helped force browser support All modern browsers support there recommendations. Some better than others These recommendations became known as “web standards” 21
  22. 22. The Standards Philosophy Separating structure, presentation and behaviour Adding meaning to a document Writing quality code that will last 22
  23. 23. Benefits of web standards Standards ease communication. If the site is built using standards, it’s much easier to hand over to other developers Standards encourage interoperability. Sites are more accessible and forward compatible Standards make life easier. The code is easier to maintain. Easy to make site-wide changes 23
  24. 24. Benefits of web standards Standards ensure safety and durability. Better written code will last longer Standards guarantee a level of expertise. You need to be a reasonably proficient developer to build sites using web standards Standards are a mark of professionalism. Insisting on web standards helps separate the professionals from the cowboys 24
  25. 25. However the standards aren't perfect Standards based sites aren't necessarily faster loading than non-standards sites Large CSS files are difficult to maintain. Particularly thanks to the cascade Presentation is still tied to structure (to a certain extent) CSS layout is less than ideal Inconsistent browser implementation (X)HTML and CSS development is stalling 25
  26. 26. Web standards are becoming irrelevant …and that’s a good thing by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 26
  27. 27. Most clients don’t care about standards… …and why should they? by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 27
  28. 28. A change of focus • Information Architecture • Usability • User Experience • Design • Branding • Client and user goals by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 28
  29. 29. I don’t care about standards… …and neither should you by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 29
  30. 30. Thank You http://www.andybudd.com/wsg2006 by Andy Budd of Clearleft.com 30