The W3C and the web design ecosystem

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This presentation was given at the Greenwich university "Talk web design" day, 11th January 2012. It discusses what open web standards are and why they are a better alternative to proprietary technologies, what the W3C is and how web standards are created, and what relationship the W3C has with the rest of the web community.

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  • Australian trains\n
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  • In 1917, a person wanting to travel from Perth to Brisbane on an east-to-west crossing of the continent had to change trains six times.\n
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  • I didn’t know lycos still existed!\n
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  • So now it’s all peace and love, and all browsers support the core standards the same. Well mostly...although there are still some niggles\nAnd now we’ve got heavily into using unfinished stuff on web sites, like HTML5 and CSS3\nAnd we’ve still got to support IE6-8, for the moment\nAnd loads of different devices to support, tablet, mobile, etc.\n\nBut this is a story for another day! At least we are aware of the right way to do it.\n
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  • The member organizations are where the W3C gets most of its funding.\n\nThey do it for the good of the web, but also to push their own agendas as much as they can\n
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  • 150 days to deal with IP exclusion. Otherwise “royalty free” tends to come into play anyway\n\n<video> relies on video codecs/formats, some have patents, so they are left out of the spec.\n
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  • Until of course, wider implementation and more testing is done, and errata start flooding in.\n
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  • The spec is really supposed to be developed and prototyped before it is implemented and popularised, but often it happens the other way around. This is a bit naughty, but hey, we’ve all done it.\n
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  • The W3C and the web design ecosystem

    1. 1. The W3C & the web designThursday, 12 January 2012 ecosystem
    2. 2. Who the hell am I? ‣ I work for Opera ‣ Open standards advocate and education agitator ‣ dev.opera.com editor ‣ W3C web education community group chair ‣ HTML5/CSS3 wrangler ‣ Heavy metal drummerThursday, 12 January 2012
    3. 3. What are open web standards?Thursday, 12 January 2012
    4. 4. What are standards?Thursday, 12 January 2012
    5. 5. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    6. 6. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    7. 7. Standards make life easier ‣ We don’t have to worry about compatibility all the time ‣ Products are cheaper ‣ Solutions can be reached more quickly ‣ Imagine if we didn’t have standards?Thursday, 12 January 2012
    8. 8. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    9. 9. Australian trains... “When railway construction began in Australia in the 1850s, the engineers favoured the gauge system they were most familiar with: the emerging standard gauge (rails 1,425 millimetres apart) from England and Europe or the broad gauge (rails 1,590 millimetres apart) from Ireland.” -- australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/railways-in-australiaThursday, 12 January 2012
    10. 10. Australian trains... When train lines were expanded to travel between states, the lines, equipment and operating practices were incompatible. Passengers and freight would often have to be transferred from one train to another at state borders. -- australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/railways-in-australiaThursday, 12 January 2012
    11. 11. Now let’s apply this to web standards ‣ Before web standards were embraced, life was grim ‣ Let’s rewind to the late 90sThursday, 12 January 2012
    12. 12. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    13. 13. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    14. 14. Bad, bad times ‣ Features were implemented incompatibly, to try to monopolise the web (IE succeeded) ‣ You either had to write two different web sites, or just support IE or Netscape ‣ Life was hell for developers, and users sufferedThursday, 12 January 2012
    15. 15. This had to change ‣ The W3C was formed to create and impose standards, but they needed help ‣ Pressure groups were formed to lobby browser vendors into aligning with the standards, most notably WaSPThursday, 12 January 2012
    16. 16. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    17. 17. Open standards... ‣ Anyone can suggest a standard ‣ Anyone can contribute to a standard ‣ Open standards are free for anyone to use ‣ They are created collaboratively ‣ They are not owned by any one companyThursday, 12 January 2012
    18. 18. ...versus proprietary tech ‣ Controlled by single companies ‣ Often rely on costly software ‣ What happens if that company goes bankrupt, or insane? ;-)Thursday, 12 January 2012
    19. 19. What is the W3C?Thursday, 12 January 2012
    20. 20. The World Wide Web Consortium ‣ Created in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee ‣ “Hosted” by three universities: MIT (US), ERCIM (France) and Keio (Japan) ‣ Mission: “To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.” ‣ 64 FTEs, and 334 member organizationsThursday, 12 January 2012
    21. 21. Basically... ‣ They are the keepers of (most of) the technology standards that we use to create the Web ‣ Although there are others: ‣ ECMA (European Computer Manufacturers Association) ‣ IETF (Internet Engineering task force) ‣ Khronos ‣ WACThursday, 12 January 2012
    22. 22. Creating a standard #1 ‣ First, someone has a “good” idea ‣ The idea gets support from others ‣ It gets a test implementation (this should probably come later) ‣ The creator approaches the W3C to see if they want itThursday, 12 January 2012
    23. 23. Creating a standard #2 ‣ If the W3C approves, a working group (WG) is formed to work on the technology ‣ The WG creates an editor’s draft for people to check outThursday, 12 January 2012
    24. 24. Creating a standard #3 ‣ First public working draft ‣ Collect feedback and refine spec ‣ This is the first IP exclusion opportunity — contributors will check whether the spec relys on technology that they have a patent on. Then they can: ‣ Grant a royalty-free license ‣ Declare a patent exclusionThursday, 12 January 2012
    25. 25. Creating a standard #4 ‣ Working draft ‣ Potentially several iterations ‣ First public chance to comment ‣ Lots of feedback and refinement ‣ Implementers will typically create prototype/test implementations at this point too ‣ Useful for developers to test the techThursday, 12 January 2012
    26. 26. Creating a standard #5 ‣ Last call working draft ‣ The point where the WG thinks the spec is finished ‣ Usually at this point they are inundated with feedback ;-) ‣ Also the second IP exclusion opportunity (60 days)Thursday, 12 January 2012
    27. 27. Creating a standard #6 ‣ Candidate recommendation ‣ It should be pretty stable by now, and implementable by browsers ‣ Although usually at this point: ‣ Developers come back with loads more critical feedback (due to more implementation) ‣ W3C realises it hasn’t got enough tests ‣ So it often goes back to last callThursday, 12 January 2012
    28. 28. Creating a standard #7 ‣ Proposed recommendation ‣ The tests are finally in, and each one is passed by two or more browser implementations ‣ Final sanity check stageThursday, 12 January 2012
    29. 29. Creating a standard #8 ‣ W3C recommendation! ‣ Finished, done!Thursday, 12 January 2012
    30. 30. Conflicting drafts? ‣ These sometimes appear ‣ Eg for Web Audio, we have: ‣ The Web Audio API from Google ‣ The Audio Data API from Mozilla ‣ The WG needs to work out how to go forwardThursday, 12 January 2012
    31. 31. How can you get involved? ‣ Anyone can give feedback on a new spec ‣ Join the mailing lists, read the drafts ‣ The drafts often contain instructions on how to feedbackThursday, 12 January 2012
    32. 32. How does the W3C relate to the community?Thursday, 12 January 2012
    33. 33. Thursday, 12 January 2012
    34. 34. Some would say badly! ‣ They’ve been accused in the past of not representing the needs or wishes of real web designers ‣ And being stuffy and academic and hard to communicate with ‣ And being far too slowThursday, 12 January 2012
    35. 35. XHTML2 ‣ XHTML1 was a good move ‣ But XHTML2 went in a direction that was incompatible with existing work ‣ It took a renegade spec group — the WHATWG — to set them straight ‣ Their work was eventually brought back into the W3C, and became HTML5Thursday, 12 January 2012
    36. 36. Hard to communicate? ‣ It is hard to get feedback listened to, some say ‣ For example Ian Hickson, editor of HTML5, is viewed as a “benevolent dictator” ‣ Hard to argue against ‣ But tends to relent if given compelling enough evidence. Sometimes!Thursday, 12 January 2012
    37. 37. And they work at glacial speed ‣ CSS 2.1 took 10 years to “finish” ‣ Browser vendors started to take things in their own hands somewhat ‣ Improvements being made — e.g. modular nature of CSS3 makes things manageable and seem fasterThursday, 12 January 2012
    38. 38. The W3C exists to innovate ‣ But it is really the browsers that innovate ‣ A spec being “finished” or not doesn’t really matter ‣ The best spec is useless if it doesn’t get widespread implementation ‣ The best implementation is useless if designers and developers don’t build things with itThursday, 12 January 2012
    39. 39. Overall... ‣ Things are getting better, and the W3C are spending a lot of time trying to streamline things, design things better, be more communicative, and produce better educational resources ‣ It’s not perfect, but it’s what we’ve got ‣ And it’s better than the alternativesThursday, 12 January 2012
    40. 40. Thanks! cmills@opera.com @chrisdavidmills http://www.slideshare.net/chrisdavidmills http://dev.opera.com http://www.w3.org/community/webed/Thursday, 12 January 2012
    41. 41. Picture credits Screw picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lawprier/3713441792/ Traffic lights picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4747872021/ Train picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/eterno_retorno/2383602431/ van picture - http://www.flickr.com/photos/maenoellefoto/2769601478/ w3c - http://www.flickr.com/photos/maxf/112944254/ beavis and butthead - ?Thursday, 12 January 2012

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