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(unknown charset) Re: Backward Compatible

From: (unknown charset) Alex Rousskov <rousskov@measurement-factory.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 14:46:15 -0700 (MST)
To: (unknown charset) Karl Dubost <karl@w3.org>
Cc: (unknown charset) public-evangelist@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.4.58.0403101440240.39692@measurement-factory.com>

The meaning of "backward compatible" in the context of the Web is
pretty much the same as in any other broad context. How about this,
to start with:

	Backward compatibility: compatibility between X and Y,
	                        where X existed prior to Y

Just like compatibility, backward compatibility is only defined for
given concepts or objects (X and Y).


On Wed, 10 Mar 2004, Karl Dubost wrote:

> It seems the message didn't have the intended success, which may be a
> proof of the difficulty to define the concept.
> Le 08 mars 2004, à 13:41, Karl Dubost a écrit :
> > I'm struggling with a question for the last month, and I would like to
> > hear your opinion on it.
> >
> > * What do we mean when we say backward compatible in the context of
> > the Web?
> > * How would you define it?
> > * Do you define it with regards
> > 	- to the specifications?
> > 	- to the tools?
> > 	- to the authoring techniques?
> To try to push forward, because many people seem to use it without
> having a clear definition of what it is. It seems often like a rabbit
> pulled out of a hat.
> Jeffrey Zeldman said in an article
> 	"""There is no true backward compatibility."""
> in http://www.digital-web.com/features/feature_2002-09.shtml
> """
> That this otherwise brilliant company wastes untold bandwidth to
> deliver a look and feel no one admires says everything you need to know
> about the entrenched mindset of developers who hold "backward
> compatibility" in higher esteem than reason, usability, or their own
> profits.
> What do developers mean by "backward compatibility?" They mean using
> non-standard, proprietary (or deprecated) markup and code to ensure
> that every visitor has the same experience, whether they're sporting
> Netscape Navigator 1.0 or IE6. Held up as a Holy Grail of professional
> development practice, "backward compatibility" sounds good in theory.
> But the cost is too high and the practice has always been based on a
> lie.
> There is no true backward compatibility. There is always a cut-off
> point. For instance, neither Mosaic (the first visual browser) nor
> Netscape 1.0 support HTML table-based layouts. By definition, then,
> those who use these ancient browsers cannot possibly have the same
> visual experience as folks who view the Web through later browsers like
> Netscape 1.1 or MSIE2.
> Developers and clients who strive for backward compatibility inevitably
> choose a "baseline browser" (say, Netscape 3) beyond which they will
> make no effort. To support that baseline browser and those that
> succeeded it, developers layer their markup with a series of
> browser-specific, non-standard hacks and workarounds that add weight to
> every page. At the same time, they write multiple scripts to
> accommodate the browsers they've chosen to support, and use browser
> detection to feed each browser the code it likes best. In so doing,
> these developers further increase the girth of their pages, pump up the
> load on their servers, and ensure that the race against perpetual
> obsolescence will continue until they run out of money or go out of
> business.
> """
> --
> Karl Dubost - http://www.w3.org/People/karl/
> W3C Conformance Manager
> *** Be Strict To Be Cool ***
Received on Wednesday, 10 March 2004 16:46:16 UTC

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