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Re: Single Browser Intranets (was: Web Accessibility Myths)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 16:55:25 -0400 (EDT)
To: Ann Navarro <ann@webgeek.com>
cc: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.9910241625230.31967-100000@tux.w3.org>
Although I agree that W3C is not a typical organisation in general, I think
we make a good model for the question, and even more so for an educational
than a traditionally corporate setting. We represent a diverse group of
people who have a large amount of common purpose (like people studying a
particular course, or developing software) but also a variety of individual
requiremetns that aren't shared (some people work on graphics, some on
transport protocols, some on marketing, just as students study a range of
courses, and corporations expect engineers to work on engineering,
administrative staff to keep the organisation running smoothly, marketing
staff to promote the product to the world). In addition, we model the
corporate situation where there is a single language throughout the
corporation (in W3C's case US ENglish is the official language) but many of
our employees speak other languges (for example many of the team in Japan
speak Japanese, and there are a number of french speakers, german speakers,

W3C is not typical, but partly only becuase we are small.

Universities, COlleges and Coroporations have some important things in common
with us:

1. Although we are working broadly on the same thing, we have different
needs. Some of us work on graphics, some on transport protocols, some on

2. We are distributed worldwide. We have one official language (US
English) but employees often use another language in their everyday life and

3. We have a range of different backgrounds, and are used to different
tools (and computers and operating systems). Some staff take up new software
daily, others are reluctant to change from the tool they used three years

4. Our systems team does not support all the software people use, but people
are prepared to read the manual to be able to use a piece of software they
like if it is unsupported. 

(The level of support I have seen at colleges does not justify relying on
their supported software, but that is probably just bad personal experience.)

We have some important differences

1. We are vendor-neutral. Although we develop our own browser and our own
authoring tool (Amaya is both) we do not force people to use them as part of
a corporate culture-buidling exercise. 

That is a legitimate reason for having a single-browser intranet at Lotus, or
at Opera, or at Citec (who make Doczilla), or at Netscape. It does not apply
to educational institutions.

2. Interoperability is a stated goal. That is true of some businesses, and
not of others.

In summary, I am not saying that it is always a bad idea to have
single-browser intranets, just that there are very strong reasons not to in
most cases. I think education institutions are one of the cases where it is
extremely unwise except in certain very narrowly defined circumstances.

Just my 2 bits worth

Charles McCN

On Sun, 24 Oct 1999, Ann Navarro wrote:

  At 12:38 PM 10/24/99 -0700, Kynn Bartlett wrote:
  >With all respect intended towards Charles, the W3C is _not_ a
  >typical organization at all and therefore makes a terrible model
  >to say "look, we have 50 people with 8 different browsers." 
  Kynn has a good point, and one we have to remind other web developers of
  sometimes: we (and by that I mean web enthusiasts, developers, and other
  computer geeks) aren't a very good reference pool, since by definition
  we're aware of the latest and greatest trends, and tend to have powerful
  computers and up-to-the-minute copies of software. 
  Ann Navarro
  Author: Effective Web Design: Master the Essentials, 
  Due 10/99 - Mastering XML,12/99 HTML By Example, 2nd Ed.
  Founder, WebGeek Communications http://www.webgeek.com/
  Director, Online Education-HTML Writers Guild, http://www.hwg.org/

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Sunday, 24 October 1999 16:55:30 UTC

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