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Re: CSS is doomed (10 years per version ?!?)

From: Orion Adrian <orion.adrian@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 15:52:08 -0400
Message-ID: <abd6c80105063012526afb2319@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

On 6/30/05, Kris@meridian-ds.com <Kris@meridian-ds.com> wrote:
>
> While I understand what you're saying Orion, I don't view MS as a
> neccessary evil.  Especially in the world of the Internet.  Considering
> that greater than 50% of the web runs on Open Source platforms (ie. Linux
> largely) I don't see any reason to begin to accept the MS monopoly.

Let's be clear here. I never said to accept it, but to understand how
it came about, how it has been maintained and how it will continue by
looking at it as a whole is important. While there were aspects of
Embrace, Extend, Extinguish and other annoying and illegal activities,
their success was not born entirely of that. They actually did a very
good job of making the platform very attractive to develop for. They
came about their monopoly by knowing the business. How they maintained
it was a mix.

>  Every
> day I deal with people who are unwilling to change to open source
> solutions.  In almost every instance they are either forced to change by a
> corporate demand, or because they themselves understand the need for it.
> The world is changing, it will continue to do so, and while I understand
> your mother's sentiment (and it's probably a good indicator for the typical
> user) the typical user IS becoming more educated about both the evils of
> microsoft, and the benefits of Open Source.  At least once I week I tell
> someone about Open Office.  I mention that it's free, that it does
> everything MS Office does and more (including xforms) and people go nuts.
> If you weigh to cost of MS Office (monetarily) against the cost of Open
> Office... Open Office wins in almost all instances.

Open source software is improving, but it's taken a long way to get to
where it needs to be. I can tell you why I developed for Windows first
and Windows last: Visual Studio. Visual Studio is one of Microsoft's
greatest products. Microsoft went about making the platform easy to
develop and then evangelizing the hell out of it. Ignoring this part
of their success probably means that the argue against is flawed or at
least incomplete.

> Concerning Firefox again...  I agree... if Microsoft plays their hand
> perfectly, they might be able to turn Firefox into a foot note in history.
> However I find that unlikely.  MS is stuck supporting a regime of webpages
> that are IE specific... specifically they don't support most of CSS, and
> use IE specific html code.  Often this is bloated code from frontpage or
> word...  Support for "standards" other than their own would break most of
> those legacy webpages.

Here I don't agree. Microsoft has a lot of practice making things work
despite changes in their code and other people's code. Their stance of
"it should just work" has meant that even when the platform changed,
user's software still worked. I can't say this about my experience
with Linux distributions that I've tried, though I'll admit that was
in 2002/2003. Trust me Microsoft will support standards if it wants to
and it will support their own specifications. Microsoft here has the
advantage in that it can make people work on a project not because
they want to, but because they are paid to.

> What I'm trying to illustrate is this.  Open Source (as of today) has
> better products all around.  Conforming to standards reduced time to
> produce product, and promotes usability on multiple platforms.  Konqueror's
> css renderer as well as gecko's renderer both render most websites
> beautifully.  W3C has been kind enough to provide us with the !important
> portion of css which gives us the power to easily code css for legacy IE
> stupidity.

Having not looked at the open source software you're talking about
recently, I can't evaluate it on its own, but I can say that not
interoperating with the rest of office as is and not having the
support system that windows and office has is a major strike against
it. To truly evaluate software, I feel we must look at it from many
angles including the non-technical ones. These are were I think
Microsoft shines and Open Office does not.

> The truth is that MS is responsible for the lack of acceptence of standards
> in the main stream.  Whether the general public understands that, or likes
> it, is rather irrelivant to me.  I'm a designer.  I've been exposed to the
> standards, and I use them.  Thus far they've made my life infinitely
> easier... not harder.  I know other designers (the people who actually use
> css on a daily basis) and we are always delving deeper into css, and
> understanding more about what it does.  CSS is far from "doomed" in my
> opinion.  It's quite possible W3C's greatest gift to designers.  I use
> Firefox because the CSS I like, and want to use is working there...  I use
> !important (again a wonderful portion of the standards) to make my sites
> look good to IE users.  But, I pitty them.  MS's standards and additional
> abilities in IE have largely led to the problems of spyware and viruses...
> is that truly a standard you wish to continue using?  If so be my guest.
> At least computer repair techs will continue to have a job.  But as for me,
> I'll pick standards compliant technology that truly works the way it was
> intended and doesn't open my computer up to 99.999% of the worlds hacks.
> I'm not alone in this opinion, and the Open Source balls is already
> rolling... stopping it's gonna be difficult.

Microsoft has no magic wand that made developers turn their backs on
standards. Standards were ignored because web authors decided that the
technology that was easiest for them to use didn't use it. This is an
argument that comes up a lot, but I've never understood. Microsoft
can't brainwash people beyond their ability to advertise and if that
were all it took then Open Source should simply compete on that level,
but that isn't the whole story. The whole story is that Microsoft has
a habit of making its platforms attractive to developers and users
(often through 3rd party software developed because it's attractive to
developers). What's before, they ruined it the standards? How did they
make people forgo them? There are many groups here and any one of them
could have taken a stand if they truly cared, but they didn't. They
just wanted it to work.

As for the rolling ball. I've heard this argument for years and so
far, open source has been a non-starter. It's there and people
recognize its impact, but I feel that while dealing with it, no one
truly fears that it will take over the world. It's wonderful
propaganda, but it's propaganda. Microsoft has their own propaganda
(usually advertising), but let's look at the numbers. Open source
doesn't have numbers that show it's going to rule the world anytime
soon.

> Again, I understand what you're saying, but my basic point is that:
> 
> 1.) MS's monopoly has undermined the way the web SHOULD have worked years
> ago... we are only now starting to correct that problem.

Actually I blame the W3C working groups. To me, the working groups
ignored key features of the languages they were creating which allowed
Microsoft to come along with a more programmer friendly and user
friendly spec and take everyone to town.

> 2.) Open Source products are better, and work the way I expect them to.

Microsoft products are better and they work the way I expect them to.
See I can do it too. These are opinions. I would surmise that a major
value for you is that software is open source adding to the "are
better" part of your statement. Values are tricky, but to the populace
at large, Microsoft products "are better".

> 3.) Standards have helped me infinitely more than they've hindered me.  I
> cannot say the same for MicroSoft.

Yet millions of developers can. Visual Basic was and may still be the
most programmed for language in the years it was around. Microsoft
made the platform easy to program for and the developers thanked them
by giving Microsoft a platform with more titles than anyone could ever
catalogue.

> 4.) The average user is becoming more educated about these issues all the
> time, and MicroSoft's backed themselves into a corner that's going to make
> them have to lie cheat and steal to get out of it again.  It's only a
> matter of time before some Open Source product unseats the MS beast and
> puts it in its grave.  I hope it's Firefox, it may not be, but I can hope
> and support it.  If everyone just decided that it was all hopeless, no one
> would ever beat MS.

The average user still doesn't care. The average user just wants a
product that they can open up, hit a button and the machine will do
what they wanted it to do. That is the average user. Your friends,
your collegues probably aren't the average user. The average user
bought an iPod. Open source? far from it. They also bought an Intel
machine with Windows XP on it. Open source? far from it.

At some point open source became the end instead of the means. It's
just not a value most people share and a lot have even heard of.

Orion Adrian
Received on Thursday, 30 June 2005 19:52:17 GMT

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