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Incorporating proprietary formats in any recommendation is a BAD idea!

From: Bruce Heerssen <bruce@heerssen.com>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 10:45:47 -0400
Message-ID: <3BBC761B.1060103@heerssen.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

While it seems plausible that proprietary formats or protocals could 
benifit the web, I don't see how including them in core technologies 
such as SVG could help. At best, a proprietary SVG format should remain 
outside of the accepted standards for web development - much as other 
proprietary formats are.

Macromedia's Flash, for example, is perfectly OK in my opinion. This 
example comes from a single company: there is no pretense that it should 
be included in any official specification, and hence no undue burden for 
companies to use it. Those that want to can, and those that don't, don't 
have to.

The problem with incorporating proprietary technologies in official 
standards (W3C or otherwise), as I see it, is that governments often 
rely on direction from an applicable standards body. So, if a 
proprietary format or protocol were accepted as a standard for, say, 
accessibility technologies, I could see a government requiring the use 
of it for all websites - regardless of publisher's ability to produce 
said technology. Proprietary technologies often require the use 
proprietary tools to produce them. Flash is a good example of this. What 
would happen if Flash were suddenly required for all websites in a given 
country? Well, web firms that do not have the capability to produce 
Flash animations would suddenly be out of work, and could even be held 
accountable for previous work, even if they do not have the means to 
bring that work up to standards. I realize that this is an extreme 
circumstance, and a very unlikely one at that, but it does illustrate a 

Open standards have always been the lifeblood of this industry. The 
W3C's proposal represents an opening salvo in an assault against open 
standards. If we allow this proposal to become an official 
recommendation, then surely more attacks will follow and we will be in 
lesser position to defend against them.

Thank you,

Bruce Heerssen
Web Developer (since 1997)

P.S. - the above comments were taken from a comment I submitted to an 
article found at evolt.org, a leading web development community. The 
article can be found at:

Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 11:53:50 UTC

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