Re: Issues concerning web standards

On 12 Dec 2009, at 8:14 AM, Andrew Jenery wrote:

> This is a repeat of a previous message, as I forgot to include a  
> subject title.  My appologies...
> -----

[comments at the bottom]

> To W3C,
> Hi,
> I have a number of issues concerning current standards for web-page  
> creation/implimentation, but do not know which W3C department to  
> contact, so I have sent this email here...
> The main issues/problems that I experience; indeed have experienced  
> for some time, are as follows:
> Creating so-called 'standards based/complient' web pages is (for me  
> at least, although I am sure the following is true for many people)  
> far from simple and strait forward.  The whole process is still far  
> too complex and convoluted, especially for those that were/are used  
> to table-based web-page creation using WYSIWYG editors, i.e  
> Dreamweaver.  Now however, and for many years already, this is no  
> longer enough.
> It is now almost a criminal offence not to use CSS, and here lies  
> the problem.  Many people do not have CSS knowledge; indeed they did  
> not/do not have even html/xhtml knowledge which is why WYSIWYG html  
> editors were made very popular in the first place - indeed, this  
> worked very well for many years.
> The process was simple and problem-free; you created x-number of web  
> pages using an editor, you checked things like meta tags, added  
> content, and then uploaded the pages to a host's server.  Now  
> however, it has to be CSS'd; but because many do not have this  
> knowledge and at the same time cannot afford to hire professional  
> programmers, etc, they are forced into the CMS route - Content  
> Management Systems, such as Joomla!; Wordpress, etc.
> But these are not simple or straitforward either.  The content  
> management aspect of CMS's is very good and most welcome, but you  
> are still required to have naked html and especially css knowledge  
> (none of these CMS's have wysiwyg html/css editors), which puts the  
> vast majority of 'web entrepreneurs' back to square one.
> Why therefore, is W3C so CSS-biased?  Why does W3C insist on  
> bullying people into not accepting or staying with table-based web- 
> pages/websites?  This is not a benefit for many web developers, it  
> is a hazard!
> To this, W3C may say 'what is the problem', considering that recent  
> or updated versions of wysiwyg editors do support latest css  
> requirements?  This is true, however many of these updated versions  
> are far from cheap; they are very expensive - many web developers  
> are still relying on much older versions of these editors.
> For instance, I still use - and would like to continue using  
> Dreamweaver 4.0 which was released circa 2001/2002 (I forget the  
> exact year).  My budget simply does not allow me to buy upgrades,  
> and this I would state without any hesitating, is the case for many  
> thousands of website developers/publishers.
> So, to sum-up what my concerns are; it is that there is far too much  
> of this ramming css down people's throats, and wagging the finger  
> (on forums, etc) at anyone who still dares to want to publish  
> simple, table-based sites (that worked perfectly well for many  
> years) on the www.  Google, for instance, will not even list none- 
> css sites!  It is as though W3C and Google and certain other players  
> are in-league on this issue...

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for sending comments. Both the benefits and costs are real.

First the benefits of CSS. Just to mention a few, CSS:

   - simplifies markup. Can also allow you to make more semantically  
rich content, which increases
     the likelihood of it being accessible
   - facilitates reuse (since style sheets may be linked to). This, in  
turn, makes maintenance easier
   - allows for different rendering on different devices with same  
   - lets you do more interesting designs (and CSS 3 brings even more  

A quick Web search for "css benefits" reveals more observations on the  
benefits. W3C is not in a position of ramming CSS down throats, but of  
course we and many others think there are plenty of benefits to using  
CSS. In short: there are plenty of benefits for designers.

There are costs as well. You cited the cost of software. I understand  
that some people may not be able to afford new software, or may be in  
an environment where they cannot upgrade. In that case, there's not  
much to do and W3C would certainly not be in a position to criticize.

However, CSS was first standardized 14 years ago. CSS 2 became a  
standard almost 12 years ago. The market now strongly supports HTML  
and CSS. I expect software costs will continue to drop. A search for  
"css editor" reveals
a number of free editors available. I found firebug very useful when  
working on the W3C site redesign, but there are plenty of tools  

Complexity can be an issue. I'm in a good place to talk about CSS  
theoretically since I helped edit CSS2. I'm in a bad
place to talk about CSS in practice because I am not a designer  
working with it every day. Theoretically, as a declarative language, I  
find it straightforward to use. In practice, it's not so simple due to  
interop issues.

I am surprised at the number of people who write CSS by hand. I always  
expect that tools will hide the
implementation and that people should even be able to use the same  
WYSIWYG interface whether CSS is used
under the hood or tables. I hope the tool can hide some of the  
complexity, but I am someone who writes CSS
by hand, so I'm not familiar with what tools designers find useful.

So, I think the benefits are numerous and that's why many in the  
community are enthusiastic about CSS. There are a number of resources  
available (including some from W3C) for making the transition from non- 
CSS to CSS. W3C should not, of course, wag fingers at those who are  
not in a position to make the transition.

As for google or any other search engine provider: they establish  
their own practices and algorithms and you may wish to contact them  
directly with questions or concerns.

I believe the mailing list may be a useful forum for  
questions about CSS. Thanks again for writing,

  _ Ian

> Regards,
> Andrew Jenery
> Use Hotmail to send and receive mail from your different email  
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Ian Jacobs (
Tel:                                      +1 718 260 9447

Received on Wednesday, 23 December 2009 20:57:12 UTC