Getting Over Excited About HTML 5 / CSS 3

Not me. Not really. Right now I’m more bothered about mastering HTML 4.01 and CSS 2.1. I went to visit the Future of Web Design conference Website earlier on and was about to register, unfortunately all of the Student Tickets have been taken! =/ Maybe next year. I would have still liked to have gone, but I do have some beef with the schedule.

There’s so much about HTML 5 and CSS 3 right now, not just in conferences like FOWD but also new books are being released on HTML 5 too.

Wait a second now…What have all you professionals been encouranging and making a song and dance about for the past 10 years?..Web Standards…Right? Now correct me if I’m wrong here but when something is a Web Standard it generally means its a standard, you know…Like HTML 4.01 , XHTML 1.0, XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.1 or ECMAScript-262 5th Edition. They’re Web Standards right?

They haven’t gone out of date. They’re the most recent Web Standards. New Web Standards are being developed - HTML 5 and CSS 3. They aren’t Web Standards yet. And according to the W3C and the WHATWG they aren’t going to be Web Standards for at least a few years, most likely almost a decade until they are fully implemented.

Aren’t we just going back to the bad old days of the Web when using CSS 3 propretiary properties like the one for rounded corners? In the CSS 3 Technical Recommendation, when it is released as a TR - It will specify one property that every Web browser can use, yup? But people are implementing Websites in HTML 5 and CSS 3 and they aren’t even standards yet…Conferences and books on two languages that aren’t specifications yet and could change drastically at any point. Sure, most of these new HTML 5 and CSS 3 based Websites are experimental Websites, that’s fine. I have no beef with that.

I understand the event FOWD is exactly that - The Future of Web Design. But if the HTML 5 and CSS 3 specifications aren’t going to be released for at least another 3 - 4 years (most likely looking at 8 - 10 years) then what is going to be the main talking point / schedule for these sort of events next year and the year after?

I don’t know. It’s a rant I guess. I knew the lineup for the FOWD event last year was awesome and I would have loved to have attended it, but this year not so much. HTML 5 and CSS 3 aren’t relevant to me, and I don’t think they should be relevant to anybody else at the moment, at least not for real Websites. I’m not saying I’m not reading about HTML 5 and CSS 3. I’m reading about them actively, in fact actually the majority of time when I want to read about them I read the current most up to date specification that is published. But the specification is changing every day. We can’t be publishing books on a specification that’s currently being developed as we speak, can we?

Maybe we should concentrate on mastering the current Web Standards that are implemented in Web browsers before we get ahead of ourselves? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick? Someone enlighten me please :slight_smile:

Andrew Cooper

Aw, c’mon, are you telling me you’ve never wanted to rip open a few Christmas presents before December 25th? :lol:

I take your point, especially with regard to HTML5. People want to be ready for it when it comes, but the current excitement seems a little premature to me.

But CSS3 is being developed in modules, and some seem to be pretty well formed. I’m starting to feel it’s fair enough to start to play with some of them (like rounded corners) and add in the proper code for when it is a standard.

The fact that people are grasping these technologies by the horns is probably helping to move them along and also to refine them and guide their development.

Of course I’ve wanted to! Everyone wants to! But it spoils the special day if you do!

Oh, I totally understand that people want to be ready for when it does become a Web Standard. I want to be ready too. I want to be at least at an intermediate knowledge and skills level of HTML 5 when it becomes a Web Standard. So I’ll be experimenting with HTML 5 and CSS 3 before it does become a Web Standard. As I’m sure everyone else will too. But if the -real- time frame is anything to go by then we aren’t going to be having a HTML 5 TR for a few years yet. And if the past is anything to go by, we won’t have CSS 3 full implemented in Web Browsers either for a few more years. If Microsoft are going to stick to their guns then they won’t be implementing HTML 5 or CSS 3 features into IE9 because they aren’t standards yet, at least thats what their excuse was regarding their snail pace to implement CSS 2.1 in IE.

Yea, I was thinking that too. CSS files can be changed any time and it wouldn’t affect any of the HTML documents. But at the same time I don’t really want 2 or 3 different proprietary CSS properties / selectors in my CSS files. It’ll be a vicious cycle. Implementing proprietary code and then campaigning for the Web browsers to implement the Web Standards code. Just seems that way to me.

True. I guess we’ll see what happens. I just think a few people are getting a bit too excited about HTML 5 and CSS 3 and they seem to think that we can talk about them like they’re actually Web Standards and it’s what everyone needs to be learning. Wrong. They aren’t Web Standards, yet. And as such we should be mastering the current Web Standards. Just my take on this topic really.

Andrew Cooper

True. In a way I’m pleased that HTML5 and CSS3 are moving so slowly, as things are fast-paced enough n the web, and HTML4 and CSS2 are pretty good, really.

However, I’ve heard IE9 will make at least a few token concessions to CSS3, which I don’t think they’d have done had there not been such a buzz. So anything that gets that sleeping giant off its back is a good thing.

Andrew, if you’re willing to travel a bit further down south there’s some good conferences going to occur later in the year, I’m in the Brighton region and we have the “Flash on the beach” conference (not just about flash but design too) and dConstruct (lot’s of different web related stuff - run by ClearLeft studio)… plus it’s cheaper than FoWD. I’m planning to attend both (if my schedule allows it)… if anyone else I know from SitePoint is attending them I’ll be happy to meet up! :slight_smile:

Just because HTML5 and CSS3 aren’t at the recommendation stage doesn’t mean they aren’t a standard, their just an unfinished or pre-release one. They are (after all) released by a standards body, they WILL become fully fledged recommendations at a future stage. It should be pointed out that we aren’t returning to the bad old days… because back then it was the browser makers creating incompatible, semantically invalid additions which websites depended on that caused the browser wars and divide which went down in history. The clear difference now is we are more aware about gracefully degrading code and when developers make use of CSS3 (like myself, if you see my new look design), we ensure that when browsers don’t support those properties, the website will still function and look fairly respectable. I doubt anyone would complain about the use of progressive enhancement, with the current specifications, the future ones are no different. In respect to books, I agree it’s a bad move to start publishing books dedicated to languages which aren’t even fully formed, but even in my book I gave mention to CSS3 and HTML5 as future things to keep watching out for! I certainly didn’t want to eliminate what is the future of our industry purely on the basis that it’s incomplete, but I ensured to keep it brief and the focus on the existing standards to ensure people didn’t go overboard with them. Though in books that do cover HTML5, it should be pointed out that they are pretty good at drumming in the need to ensure backward compatibility for browsers that don’t support these new interesting features.

One thing to realise is that all browsers to some extent can take advantage of CSS3 and HTML5 even if it requires a little bit of scripting or proprietary extensions - which DO conform to the W3C recommendations of having -moz-item (for example) to indicate that it’s a functioning but not final component. Sure it requires a bit of extra code for those browsers to activate it but it’s a perfectly legitimate addition to the existing underlying code. It’s not a vicious cycle (even though it’s a bit repetitive), it’s just a signifying that you along with the browser producers want to lay down the tracks for the future of web design rather than staying restricted to the ways of old (in the same way we use CSS 2.1 like fixed positioning which IE6 doesn’t support - and just give IE6 something to settle it’s frustrations). I’m getting into a bit of a rant myself on this however my main point stands that using existing standards with upcoming standards (and browser explicit additions) is perfectly fine and acceptable (and important for ensuring the future specs will continue to progress) as long as they are used as something which can’t be depended upon and only exist in the “best case scenario” situation. Not using HTML5 and CSS3 because it’s not “finished” is only a legitimate excuse if you don’t update your site often (to meet the changes as they occur). And I certainly wouldn’t want to fall into that position as it would just aid the webs stagnation. After all, if we start using CSS3 and HTML5 now, it means browser makers (that upgrade their browsers often - unlike IE) get to ensure their equipment works with it before it goes final, meaning less bugs and quirks later on, and as users upgrade those browsers often, there’s no resulting “hand holding” required for the elderly tools. :slight_smile:

I found out about FOTB from your Twitter actually and I was looking in to it further. I’'ll have to see what the schedule and price is like nearer the time when they release the Website / Details for 2010. The dConstruct conference also looks appealing too, I like ClearLeft and the guys behind it as well. I’d love to attend either or both. It’ll be my first conference! :smiley: Would be cool to actually meet up with you and other designer / developers in real life / offline!

I understand what you’re saying here and I realize that they eventually will become standards and that we can trust the W3C but in my eyes a Technical Recommendation (as in a released Web Standard) is very different to every other stage of the Web Standardising process, so the current drafts aren’t what I see as Web Standards. They are the future without a doubt, but that future is a fair way off yet. And they are, as you said unfinished and they will change over the course of the development of them.

I can’t argue or disagree with that!

Agreed. New books being published regarding Web Design that mention the future and HTML 5 and CSS 3 is fine I feel, it’s good to know what the future holds so people are aware at least that the Web is still evolving in terms of Web Standards and the like. However, dedicated a whole book on HTML 5 and / or CSS 3 is definately something I don’t agree with at this point. I just think it’s a bit absurd to be honest.

When I talk about using HTML 5 and CSS 3 on Websites - I’m talking about Websites that don’t change, Websites you’d design / develop for a client such as a local small-to-medium business or even a large one. If you own a Blog that is about Web Design / Development or an experimental Website dedicated to HTML 5 and CSS 3 then I don’t have any beef and I even like seeing what the new features look like and how HTML 5 and CSS 3 should be and can be implemented on Websites.

The quicker the Web Standards process is and the quicker HTML 5 and CSS 3 become Technical Recommendations and are implemented in Web Browsers the better, I’m sure! (So long as the quality of the specifications aren’t any better than they would be if it took 10 years) But until they do become TR’s I just think we should maybe calm down a tiny tiny bit. At least let’s not have any new books on HTML 5 and CSS 3 until they do become TR’s!

Andrew Cooper

I’m with you on this one Andrew. It’s all very well being cutting edge with our own sites (which is great) and trying out new standards once they stop fighting about them, but when you’re building a site for a client who may well not update it again for quite a few years you need to be sure that things will work for as long as possible - basically you have to use the safest solution, boring as that might sound.

Yes, it does. Otherwise I could make up my own and say that it will probably become a recommendation some time in the future, and call it a standard.

No, they are not. W3C is not a standards body. That’s why they publish recommendations, not standards. De facto is not de jure.

Sorry but I consider the W3C to be a standards body (and I’ve no reason or justification to think otherwise), there’s no definition to state that a standards body’s recommendations have to be followed by the letter, after all their “recommendations and best practices”, not legal statutes. However the fact remains that the W3C are responsible (in all accounts) for producing what we define (as professionals) as “Web Standards”. A standard is simply a baseline justification for practising something in a certain way, it’s to all intents and purposes a proposal of how something can be accomplished using well defined and justified best practices. Perhaps you don’t consider them to be a standards body due to the way they operate however I really cannot see them as anything else because they fit the definition of the word… exactly. It doesn’t matter if all they pass out is recommendations or “ideals” for how things should operate… their specifications set a standard to which browser producers, web professionals and software developers (like Adobe) comply with willingly because they address the need for something to exist which defines the way in which things were intended to be implemented. I think it’s worth restating in reference to something you mentioned earlier… standards do not mean legally binding or a requirement and justification to follow them too the letter, there’s no definition of a “standard” I’ve ever seen in law which states that any written standard constitutes a forceful implicit requirement to follow. Any association between standards and law are simply non existent (to my knowledge).

Does that not directly meet what the W3C is all about to you? Their primary activities are about maintaining a set of standards (for web languages and other efforts) that affect and assist the interests and needs of a wider range of individuals outside their own organization (the entire web design and development community).

PS: Tommy, After some research I’ve found some past cases where courts look to “external standards and common practices in certain fields” to determine if malpractice has occurred, however upon reading, those standards are only used in the sense of a formation of what is considered the “de facto” ideal (as you put it) and the “standard” in itself is not considered legally binding or even relevant in law, except to pose as a “best case” or “widely accepted” scenario to which those in the professional agree upon to constitute the appropriate method to undertake that function. Again as far as I can see, that’s the W3C again… their not trying to implement legal acts on how people code, they just exist as an “external body” whom produce acceptable “standards and common practices” which are widely accepted and followed by the community who they apply to. Therefore I see no reason whatsoever not to qualify them as a standards body. :slight_smile:

PS Part 2: According to Wikipedia (not the best source of info I know however I’ve verified it elsewhere): The W3C does constitute a standards body, their mentioned in the article as a non-governmental independent standards organization:

You’re free to consider anything you like, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The process of developing a real standard is far more laborious and precise than the plays and games that W3C are up to. (Just look at the farce of HTML5 and you’ll see what I mean.)

For real standards there are accreditation bodies, rigorous certification procedures, etc., etc.

If you’ve ever met someone who works for an NSB (national standards body) or similar, you’ll know the difference. W3C recommendations are children’s stuff in comparison.

W3C recommendations can be made into standards. For instance, there’s ISO/IEC 15445:2000(E) which is a standardised version corresponding to HTML 4.01 Strict. But W3C themselves do not have the authority to issue any standards whatsoever. Only recommendations.

I never said they were an accredited standards body and I certainly never implied they were a national standards body… however they are widely accepted as a “non-governmental independent standards organization” and their ultimate reason for being (whether they practice fairly or justly) does follow the definition of forming standard - even if they don’t have the discipline or tedious attention to detail that other bodies have. However if you are trying to claim that they can’t be a standards body purely on the mechanisms of how they operate, I cannot agree whatsoever. There is no link between standards and legal enforcement and you’re (seemingly) only justification for discrediting them as a standards body is purely down to the mechanics of how they produce those “standards”… which is quite frankly irrelevant. What makes a standard is the willingness of the wider community to adopt them as-is in the form of the boilerplate best practice, “party politics” aside I see no reasonable justification to not consider them as such a body acting for the wider community, they fit the legal definition of a standards body precisely (and upon speaking with a technology lawyer friend of mine in messenger, he also agrees that under the circumstances, they would fit such a description - not that his word is “legally binding” either). Just because the W3C mess around and are less inclined to go through all the hoops like accredited standards bodies does not mean they do not undertake the position of such a body - if you disagree, perhaps it’s time a proper standards body for the web was created to avoid the obvious mess the W3C is undertaking. :slight_smile:

I’m only pointing out that you need to be careful with terminology. ‘Standards’ means something very specific, although the word is also used in a much wider sense in ‘loose’ talk. ‘Web standards’ are not really standards at all; they’re just best practice.

It’s like when n00bs talk about ‘alt tags’: we understand what they mean, but we know there’s a major difference between tags and attributes. In the same way, there’s a huge difference between W3C recommendations and, e.g., ISO or IEEE standards. As I’ve said before, de facto is not de jure.

I agree, though I’m basing my terminology on the dictionary (and legal) definition of the word, and in my eyes the W3C does meet the definition, yes there’s a huge difference between the work of the IEEE or ISO than the W3C, but all things considered they meet the same definition. Perhaps in this case, standard is the wrong word to attribute these organisations as it can be too generically applied across the board… meaning it’s the word at fault, not how it’s applied. :slight_smile: