The need for standards


It is sad, that even in Version 7 the Internet Explorer is not keeping to the standards of the W3C, an organization that invented and maintains a standard for how the Internet should work. Their task is to ensure that a Website works well for anybody, regardless, whether you use the Windows Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Links … (it is a never ending list – if you are interested in a quiet comprehensive list, have a look at Wikipedia’s List of Web Browsers). This is not only important for the web sites to look nicely. Another important aspect is to keep them also viewable for disabled people.

Most of the people don’t know it, but the internet is one of the most important medium for blind people. Why’s that? Well, blind people normally cannot write letters, they cannot write SMS on a mobile phone, they cannot read the every-days newspaper or read a book. Getting information is really hard for them. Luckily you can find any information in the internet in digital form. This means that they are processable. For example the text can be read to them. Next to this there are also braille devices for blind people to use. For all this devices to work it is crucial that there is a standard, in which websites are coded, and to ensure this is in the responsibility of the producers of web browsers (especially the big ones), so that also the users are forced to write clean pages in order to get rendered by the browsers correctly. As for today, sadly, we are still far away from this situation, because of big companies, like Microsoft, do not implement the standard as they should – on the one side, important tags are not implemented. On the other side Microsoft implements tags that are not part of the standard, and therefore only understood by the Internet Explorer. This is Microsoft’s well proven strategy, as the Browser wars show.

In my case this incompatibility with the W3C Standards has an impact on my extensive use of the abbreviation tag. The <abbr title=””></abbr> Tag pair is intended to be used, when you use an Abbreviation and want to add the long version of it as explanation. This explanation is shown as tool tip. I like this tag very much and not only use it for abbreviations, but for any kind of little bits of information that I do not really want to add in the text, but still want you to know about. That kind of information could be: German translation of a difficult or not really translatable word (like Abitur or Wirtschaftsinformatik), so people know what I am talking about; explanations of technical nature; additional thought I have on a certain word/sentence/etc.; and lots of other things 😉

So actually I feel really bad about telling you which browser to use, as I hate it when someone does that with me (especially because as a Linux user I simply cannot use certain software such as the Internet Explorer), but as big industries in the software sector do not see the need of software standards, I am forced to do so. So, if you really want to get out as much as possible out of my blog, please use a standard supporting browser (e.g. Firefox).

… and please make sure that you keep to the standards, when desinging web pages. An easy way to do so is to check your website with the validator.

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