I was introduced to the World Wide Web back in 1995 while being a student at Molde College, Norway. What fascinated me the most was that I could learn how to create stuff for the web by just viewing the source code of other web sites. This blew my mind and since then I have built a career working with web development.
From DHTML to an atomic winter
In the days of the .com era, the community for creating web based applications was buzzing. We were cranking out all kinds of DHTML magic. Every site out there was jumping on the band wagon without any hesitation. One of the classics is online retailer Boo.com which went all out with new technology without really succeeding. Naturally we had to deal with older browsers then too, but we did not let that get in the way of using the latest standards being adopted in browsers.
The burst of the .com bubble created something of an atomic winter as far as web based user interface development goes. A lot of people lost their jobs and the rest of us took refuge in server side development.
A clean slate and a new dawn
HTML5 - a new generation of web developers
Lulling in the wake of AJAX a new generation of web developers entered the scene. The WHATWG decided to take matters into their own hands and do what the W3C seemed incapable of, creating something which made creating web based applications with HTML easier. With the new hype of HTML5 we started to get all kinds of, what I thought, strange questions on blogs, Twitter and in industry media. “When can I start using HTML5?”, “When will it be ready?”, “I am so disappointed, all this hype and I can not use it”.
Our bread and butter
Creating web applications using the latest technologies available to us should be our bread and butter as web developers. We should not wait around for the W3C to put some stamp on some documents. Browser vendors drive innovation, not standards bodies and therefor we should apply the technology being made available to us as quickly as we can, while making sure those with less capable browsers also can access our service or site. HTML5 does not make this any harder than before and we should not use the lack of a finalized HTML5 specification hold us back.
Web Standards are everything
You might be tempted into thinking that web standards are not that important, after all the browser vendors drive innovation. Innovation is done by the vendors, but the standards are extremely important as a way of making sure the web stays open and does not become fragmented. There are always numerous organizations trying to create their own special web, but thanks to the great work of the standard bodies the web has stayed open and will continue to do so.
The web standards (such as The Web Standards Project and WHATWG) community has really blossomed in the years after the introduction of AJAX and developers are way more conscious about the importance open standards. Without the work of the people in various working groups and standard bodies we would not be where we are today. Web technology is being used in more innovative ways than ever before. Not only restricted to making content or applications for the web, but also on the server side or to create native mobile applications.
In summary the web standards are not important, but still they are essential for us to continue to enjoy all the amazing service and applications created with open web technology.
This article was published in the August issue of the NDC Magazine from Programutvikling ASTags: CSS html interface development development w3c web webstandards