..we worked together with The Web Standards Project (in the WaSP-Microsoft Task Force) on this problem. I can’t give them enough credit for this work;

Chris Wilson (Microsoft)

Although members of the WaSP Microsoft Task Force were very much involved in this proposal, it is important to re-emphasise that this proposal is not one that every member of the Web Standards Project necessarily backs by default.

Drew McLellan (WaSP co-lead)

I, for one, hope other browser vendors join Microsoft in implementing this functionality.

Aaron Gustafson (WaSP/MSTF)

I won’t support any more cruft added to HTML without hearing the reasons. “Don’t break the Web” is a way to befuddle us. Tell us what your real concerns are and we will try to help. We are not here to rubber-stamp the first crazy idea that you come up with.

Dean Edwards on the WaSP/MSTF private mailing list

Comments (66)

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Dean, good for you! Chris Wilson is obviously spinning the collaboration with The Web Standards Project and is probably spinning a lot of other facts too.

Sorry, but calling ideas “crazy” helps exactly nobody. If this is the level of discourse that is considered to be acceptable– and based on the comments over at ALA, as well as elsewhere, I’m afraid it is– then as far as I’m concerned, we’re done here.

  • Comment by: Eric Meyer
  • Posted:

Eric, don’t you have better arguments than object the words used? Crazy ideas are crazy, that’s it. And indeed, implementing this crazy idea helps nobody except MS.

  • Comment by: Rimantas
  • Posted:

@Eric – the dialogue between Microsoft and WaSP is always constructive. I selected this quote to highlight the differences in opinions between WaSP members. If you want to leap all over the word “crazy” then go ahead.

  • Comment by: -dean
  • Posted:

Way to go, Dean! I can’t believe this atrocity. MS is really trying to sneak one by us, and it’s not cool.

[…] The new IE8 version targeting switch, announced on IEBlog and A List Apart, has been the talk of the web. Some web standards experts, like Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman see the switch in a positive light. Others, including Dean Edwards, Robert O’Callahan and Anne van Kesteren think the proposal is a bad idea. […]

Let’s just hope that IE8 supports XHTML and that when serving XHTML you are in ‘IE8 standards’ mode by default. That way, for now at least, I won’t have to care.

Thanks for further sapping my faith in the community, Rimantas.

  • Comment by: Eric Meyer
  • Posted:

Eric, instead of picking off individual use of words, you could participate in a discussion by addressing the points of concern. There is nothing new in the anti-Microsoft tirades, you should already know that. But to use it as an excuse not to enter into any sort of debate is not constructive or conducive towards the community. I encourage you to participate by raising rational points and countering arguments in a constructive way.

You’ve had the luxury of time to digest and analyse the proposal. That should already stand you in good stead to make a rational and positive contribution to the discussion. Please use this wisely.

  • Comment by: Isofarro
  • Posted:

@Isofarro Thanks for your “End of line Internet Explorer” article. One of the better on this subject.

  • Comment by: Sander Aarts
  • Posted:

I for one am excited about the IE-version Meta tag, as long as I can set it to IE1. That way all of my pages can look good in Safari, Firefox and Opera while looking like badly munged Geocities pages circa 1995. Hoorayl!

Also, does anyone remember the article that described Vista’s HD handling as the longest suicide note in history? Where does this one rank on that list?

  • Comment by: Jemaleddin
  • Posted:

I’m sorry dean, but where I usually agree with your opinions, here I cannot. People seem to forget that the internet is big — really big — and the number of pages written to match what the spec wants, rather than what IE displays, is rather small. Furthermore, people are stupid, and if a more standards compliant IE appeared and some website that had previously displayed nicely now didn’t, then people would blame IE and not the web developer.

Now although it’d be nice for the world to be perfect, for every website to be designed with the spec in mind, and those that are not to be rewritten, the sad truth is that there’s a real world out there, with real people other than web developers, and Microsoft has to make IE work for them, even if this means opt-out backward compatibility.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about anyway — no one will have to fix their pages to work in IE8 like we did when IE7 came out, and when writing a new site the opt-in meta tag will only take up one more line. Sure, it’d be nice to abstract the page away from the browser, but reality sometimes has to be accepted.

  • Comment by: Leszek Swirski
  • Posted:

@ Lauren (#7): “Proper” mime-typed XHTML is not going to be supported in IE 8 either, from what I’ve been told. Rather unfortunate, since I believe it’s still the only major browser that doesn’t (even if in reality, 90-something-percent of the web isn’t served as XHTML anyway, supporting the standard/spec is supposed to be the goal in my opinion.)

[…] Dean Edwards, The Web Standards Project (WaSP) (Read More) “I won’t support any more cruft added to HTML without hearing the reasons. “Don’t break the Web” is a way to befuddle us. Tell us what your real concerns are and we will try to help. We are not hear to rubber-stamp the first crazy idea that you come up with.” […]

It’s a pity Eric chooses argument by digression / red herring (focusing on a single word), rather than focusing on the issue and providing a rational defence for this proposal that the vast majority are passionately against.

Leszek Swirski: “… the number of pages written to match what the spec wants, rather than what IE displays, is rather small”

So, we always do what the biggest kid in the playground wants?

“… I don’t see what all the fuss is about anyway — no one will have to fix their pages to work in IE8”

That’s the whole point – we *will*. We will need to add extra markup to make IE8 render in standards-compliant mode. It therefore makes IE7’s non-standards compliant rendering mode the *default*.

‘They’ want the web dev community to accommodate a system that protects MS IE market share by hiding the mistakes / deliberate marketing choices that MS has made in the past. How can anyone be defending this decision?!

  • Comment by: DavidONE
  • Posted:

Are we arguing about having the choice, or in the way that the choice is implemented?

I think it’s evident that having a choice is going to be a good thing. I’d like to know why if the people out there who know more than me (many of you) disagree with that.

I think Eric was objecting to the fact that Dean’s quote was dismissive rather than constructive (I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth). If that was the point, Eric could have made it more constructively himself, but let’s move on to address the issues rather than bicker: both sides gain if we elevate the level of conversation.

As for the method of giving us this choice, doesn’t it really come down to opt-in or opt-out? Either IE7’s non-compliant rendering mode is the default and people ‘opt-in’ to what works, or else the IE8/9/10 slightly-less-non-compliant rendering mode is used by default and users who know or suspect that their websites will no longer render well opt-out by editing their pages.

It seems to me that the opt-in default is a far more pragmatic choice. In the opt-out scenario you are relying on people spontaneously overcoming the very problems you are trying to address (awareness of the (in)compatibility of their own web pages).

I do think there is a place for such pragmatism.

On the other hand, there are legitimate issues: you are essentially defining a non-standards compliant benchmark of IE=7;ff=2… which then becomes the default should a relevant meta-tag not be included. In turn, this will mean that the meta tag becomes an expected part of the head in every web page, much as the DOCTYPE declaration is now. Where does that leave the DOCTYPE declaration? I would guess that in real terms standards would be defined more by browsers than their own versioning.

So there are pragmatic reasons for such a solution, and there are costs (by which I mean negative aspects which we accept, rather than monetary costs, of course). The questions we really should be asking, then are:

1) Are there any alternatives that meet the same requirements to solve the same problems?
2) What are the ‘costs’ of these solutions?
3) Which of the solutions ‘costs’ us the least, and are those ‘costs’ too high?

I would like to see some real-world examples that address that third point.

Tom’s right: my objection was to the dismissive tone. I expressed myself badly, and I probably should have risen above it, but frankly all I’ve been seeing from all sides of the issue for the last day is a lot of hyperbolic attacks, many of them personal in nature. And it was here, on this post, that I cracked a bit. My apologies, Dean.

And before anyone decides to (again) accuse me of being intolerant of disagreement, please see the post I just published over on meyerweb.

  • Comment by: Eric Meyer
  • Posted:

@Eric – Your comments are always welcome here.

  • Comment by: -dean
  • Posted:

Quote from DavidONE: “‘They’ want the web dev community to accommodate a system that protects MS IE market share by hiding the mistakes / deliberate marketing choices that MS has made in the past.”

Agreed 100%. That’s what really bothers me about this. They ignore the web community for years and let IE6 stagnate. Then when they decide they’re losing ground and update their browser they don’t want to deal with the mess they made. I think I’ve fought one too many IE bugs to let them off the hook.

Besides my personal grudge, won’t this type of thing discourage people from keeping up with emerging web technologies? They’ll never be challenged to learn if they never have to. Why, if we all agree that standards is the right way, are we okay with an element that allows them to never change?

This element will limit the standards movement more than it will promote it.

  • Comment by: Kevin
  • Posted:

[…] Quotes […]

[…] I will not blog about it, because it just sucks. […]

[…] Yesterday saw the release of A List Apart #251 which is causing quite a bit of discussion. It focuses on a proposal put forth my Microsoft and some members of the Web Standards Project for a new meta tag than will control the rendering mode of IE8. […]

I agree with Kevin. The issue is not that Microsoft is trying to maintain multiple rendering engines so as not to break existing sites, it’s the fact that they’re defaulting to the old way rather than the new way. For those of you who haven’t read Eric’s latest post, he mentions that he spent an hour trying to convince a member of the IE team that the default should be “latest” rather than “IE7” (a situation which I believe most people would be fine with).

By defaulting to IE7, poorly written pages will continue to work and properly written pages (without the new meta tag) won’t necessarily work. There is absolutely no incentive to use proper HTML when the old incorrect code will work just fine. Overall, this hurts the standards movement, which in turn hurts the web as a whole. We spend huge amounts of time coding up hacks to work with 15 different versions of 15 different browsers, rather than using the standard language we already have to do really cool things (look at Eric’s css/edge if you haven’t). We code for the lowest common denominator rather than using the amazing features that are already available, just because an old version of one browser doesn’t support it.

DOCTYPE switching and IE conditional comments are the exact same thing as this. They were supposed to be ways that you could have the browser handle new, standard code as well as old, broken code. Both failed due to misuse, and this new meta tag will suffer the exact same fate. IE conditional comments could be used to do the exact same thing as this new meta tag, but it would likely break many older IE-only sites that don’t use conditional comments or misuse them (just like they would break if IE8 defaulted to the new mode and had you opt-in to IE7 mode). When IE9 comes out, I’m sure they’ll invent some new way of defaulting to IE8 mode and having the option of “really, really, really standards” mode. They won’t be able to default to IE9 mode and use this meta tag to opt for the old IE8 mode because people will have either misused it or not used it at all (just like their previous attempts at this).

Microsoft doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (i.e. drive away customers) by breaking existing badly-coded sites, so they’re defaulting to the old way and throwing in an optional “really, really standards” mode to try to appease people who support the standards. I personally feel that this goes completely counter to the whole idea behind standards, and therefore I will not support this. I agree with Hixie (the Acid2 guy) – the best thing to do is not use the tag at all, or set it to IE7 (make it use the default mode) if you have to use it.

  • Comment by: InvisiBill
  • Posted:

I code for standards, not for browsers. I say NO to browser targeting.

  • Comment by: Demian
  • Posted:

[…] January 24th, 2008If browsers were cars… So, there’s a lot of discussion all around the web because of the proposal for browsertargeting. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here you have the main sites: IEBlog announcement The A List Apart article by Aaron Gustafson (and Eric Meyer’s opinion) Jeffrey Zeldman’s opinion (from A List Apart) Drew McLellan’s and Dean Edwards‘ opinion (from WaSP) Robert O’Callahan’s opinion (fom Mozilla) and follow-up Anne van Kesteren’s opinion (from Opera) Maciej Stachowiak’s opinion (from WebKit) […]

From my perspective, the annoying thing is that Microsoft—probably only Microsoft—has the clout to be able to say “screw you guys: we’re following the standards, irrespective of how nasty that makes your tag soup look” and get away with it—and they’re choosing not to.

(Of course they could implement a <meta layout="b0rk'd plz"> element for intranets, too, if they wanted to.)

[…] Microsoft’s own announcement drew both positive and negative comments Jonathan Snook welcomes the change Anne van Kesteren is not a fan A Mozilla developer chimes in PPK defines the semantics An official Web Standards Project statement on their involvement Jeremy Keith thinks the implementation is broken Andy Budd sees opportunities for other browser vendors Ethan Marcotte read it two weeks ago and still can’t decide Zeldman steps up to defend the idea John ‘jQuery’ Resig thinks the new tag is worthless Gareth Rushgrove tentatively approves of the change Dean Edwards posts some pertinent quotes from the WHATWG mailing list Roger Johansson doesn’t think he likes it Rachel Andrew sees it as a backwards step Safari say they won’t be implementing version targeting Hixie thinks the move could be construed as anti-competitive Lachlan Hardy thinks we should accept the inevitable Mike Davies says it’s the end of the line for IE […]

IE8 and versioning – very worrying developments… I am not a fan of targeting browser versions. Nor am I a fan of the “optout” proposal. I am also unhappy about the idea about going back and adding a new meta element to every site I have done…….

After stewing on this for a couple of days, I think we as a community need to come up with some kind of compromise to put out there to Microsoft. Personally, I think their proposal is fraught with flaws that make this idea simply unbearable. I hate this idea in its current form, but some minor tweaks could make it livable…

I think, since many of us are adamantly opposed to the current solution, that we should at least try to put something out there that we’ll be able to stomach. Of course, there’s no guarantee Microsoft will listen, but at least we can say we tried to have a civil discourse and attempted negotiating something better.

Dean, what do you think?

It’s good to see that some of the WaSP members at least still believe in Standards.

I can’t believe that Meyer and Zeldman became Microsoft’s spokesmen without realizing it. Baffling…

Dean, what exactly do you do at The Web Standards Project? What does anyone at The WaSP do? What is The WaSP working on? Surely, with that talent roster, it is working to advance the cause. Why keep The WaSP’s work a secret? Why are there no announcements?

I see that most members of the steering committee, including the group leaders, paid no attention to the work of Microsoft Task Force members, and felt no need to support one of them when he announced what he’d been working on.

I don’t view Microsoft’s proposal as a debacle; but if it is, wouldn’t positive engagement and discussion be better than having every WaSP member run off to their blog to post that _they_ didn’t know anything about the proposal, and don’t support it, and think it sucks?

Love it or hate it, this proposal was the first sign of life I’ve seen from The WaSP in years. What stuns me the most in this uproar is that WaSP steering committee members seem *proud* not to have participated in these discussions with Microsoft and eager to disassociate themselves from what Aaron was working on. It’s like little kids running away from a broken window, shouting, “I didn’t do it.” I know where the kids are who didn’t break the window. Where are the adults who are building the house?

When Drew and Rachel were doing their important Dreamweaver Task Force work in 2000 and I was leading The WaSP, I made sure I knew what they were recommending and why, and how the engineers at Macromedia were responding. We communicated and had a strategy for moving forward. We did that because it was important work. *Not* communicating would have been absurd.

Now Drew is co-leader and he tells me he didn’t know about this activity because Microsoft wanted him to sign an NDA. I don’t remember if Macromedia requested that I sign an NDA or not, but if they asked, I signed it. I don’t remember because signing NDAs is a non-event when you work in a technical space and deal with big companies and their secrets. If Microsoft said the group leader could be informed so long as he signed an NDA, why didn’t he sign it?

But let that be. More importantly, can anyone tell us what The WaSP is doing to advance web standards?

If you’re not working with Microsoft, and not working with phone browsers, and not working on HTML 5 or voicing concerns about problems with HTML 5, and not recommending or criticizing WCAG 2, what exactly is this star-studded organization doing?

If you are working with those groups, why not provide progress reports? The community is desperate for positive leadership.

I don’t mean to single you out, Dean! It’s just that you’re here, and your rather flip post served mainly to prove that *you* weren’t responsible for the version tracking proposal. Bravo on not being responsible for that. So what *positive* things are you and The WaSP actually doing?

  • Comment by: zeldman
  • Posted:

Dean, I thought you had invested enough time maintaining their products alive in the last 5 years. Your patience is admirable. Hope in some way it is also worth it for you.

My opinion: they don’t deserve it. We don’t believe them. If we have to go down to a compromise for whatever strange reason, well let it be in two years from now. But they first have to catch up at least with current standards.

They will never be part of any standard, it is not in their objectives. They must be forced to it in some way. That’s the way to go.

I want to take back what I said about Eric Meyer (#30) – He actually gets it: “I tried for most of an hour to convince a member of the IE team that the default behavior should be “latest”, not “IE7″

It’s all there:

Too bad Zeldman doesn’t…

ok, my crazy idea: I suppose 90% of all pages works for IE6/FF1.5+ or IE7/FF1.5+. That is, they’ve been debugged in order to be compatible also with FF1.5+…

So, the best for “non-breaking the web” would be for IE8 to work by default as IE8, and add a “meta” only for working with FF1.5+ engine… (forgeting IE6 and IE7, but being backwards compatible…)

what a mess!!!

  • Comment by: emelendez
  • Posted:

Zeldman: “It’s like little kids running away from a broken window, shouting, “I didn’t do it.””

The only childish, stampy-footed behaviour I see in all of this, is from *your* camp. You’ve done it repeatedly. And the efficacy of your arguments suffer as a result.

You’ve now gone off on some tangent about Dean et al not doing as good a job as you used to do. It’s another red herring. More obfuscation.

Stick to the issue – is the Microsoft ‘proposal’ (it’s really a proclamation) the right thing to do for the advancement of open web standards?

It seems you, Meyer and a couple of others outside MS think it is. The rest of the web dev planet are passionate that it is not.

There is the possibility, however minuscule, that you have simply got this wrong.

  • Comment by: DavidONE
  • Posted:

Eric, please keep in mind that it the negative crowd are always more outspoken than the supporters. People here are forgetting that the internet is a mass library of information.. We need to be able to preserve all that OLD content for the future.. In 20 years from now when we have IE13 and FF22, how realistic is it for them to be able to render OLD pages that have never been updated and still strive to innovate and adopt new standards. Obviously and new method needs to preserve the OLD pages, while providing a new method for NEW pages.. Its plain and simple, the doctype idea was short sighted and proved to be flawed it must be replaced.. (yes, this is all MS’s fault, but who cares! Lets be solutions oriented and not blame oriented!!)

As a developer, I think this proposal is a good way for MS to get themselves out of the hole they are in. For the guys that get it, its one simple line of code to add to your page. (or set your server to add the header). That sounds to me a small cost to let MS truly support standards on the next release. I “get it” that MS has to avoid breaking the pages built by ignorant developers who did it wrong in the first place.. That is reality.

please people, try to remember that we live in a “real” world, not an ideal one.

And Eric and Zeldmen… please dont loose faith in the community, based on the vocal minority.

  • Comment by: Alex Duffield
  • Posted:


I don’t mean to single you out, Dean! It’s just that you’re here, and your rather flip post served mainly to prove that *you* weren’t responsible for the version tracking proposal. Bravo on not being responsible for that. So what *positive* things are you and The WaSP actually doing?

My “flip” post was meant to highlight the differences in opinions in WaSP members. Microsoft actively used the WaSP name in promoting this idea and I wanted to redress that.

I’m not going to bother addressing the rest of your comment. I work for the WaSP for free as well as develop two open-source projects that are directly related to web standards.

You can always bring your concerns directly to the WaSP. You are still a member aren’t you?

  • Comment by: -dean
  • Posted:

“… keep in mind that it the negative crowd are always more outspoken …”

That says *nothing* about what is right and what is wrong. It says nothing about the arguments submitted. Just because a bunch of people are passionate about what this declaration means does not reduce the weight of their argument.

“… this proposal is a good way for MS to get themselves out of the hole they are in ..”

It certainly is. Again, that still does not make it *right* for the advancement of open web standards. And that’s why a whole bunch of people are getting vocal.

If I started ReallyCoolBrowser (runs on WinME only) and requested WaSP to advocate a new tag because my browser was sub-W3C, would I get a similar response? Of course not. The *principle* is the *same*. Microsoft are requesting special exemption from open standards purely because of their dominance. This comes as no surprise – same as it always was. That a handful of standards evangelists are also arguing for it does. Shame.

  • Comment by: DavidONE
  • Posted:

Woah. Now I’m feeling attacked, and from someone I’d hoped I’d never have to challenge. I would post this on my own blog but I just wrote a huge post about this and I’m tired. So I’m going to beg a spot here at Dean’s.

Jeffrey, I love you personally but please don’t dare suggest that nothing happened with WaSP in years. That’s a very big insult to all of the people who worked hard to get things done there, up to and including Dean and your very own ME. WaSP got nothing done in those years? You are quite simply wrong.

Also, why jump on Dean? He’s done more for the Web than anyone I know and will likely fix all of this anyway, as he has so cleverly done in the past (just a little pressure there, Dean, sorry ;)).

Dean and I once had a talk about the “Break the Web” perspective. I didn’t agree with him (that was some months ago). But now I have to agree with Dean’s belief that it’s time to stop this bullshit.

With all due respect to my colleague Chris Wilson, the Web, whether or not we like it, is broken. That it works at all is astonishing.

Jeffrey: I told you there was a crisis months ago. You said “what crisis?” With all respect (and I do mean that) I think it’s probably took a look at what you yourself have done for the standards movement in the past years if you’re starting to point fingers.

Dean, thanks for the opportunity to use your blog to air that out.


Now Drew is co-leader and he tells me he didn’t know about this activity because Microsoft wanted him to sign an NDA.

You’ve inferred that from this tweet, but that’s not the case. If the offer of signing an NDA had been there then of course that would have been the best possible situation. That option wasn’t available to us. The MSTF are good guys who know what they’re doing, so there wasn’t a problem.

We also have to keep in mind that some of the parties we work with (such as Adobe and Microsoft) are market competitors and we have to be sensitive as to who is under NDA and who knows what of any one company’s future plans. That’s something we have to be pretty hot on, so it’s not always a case of just being able to sign anything that gets pushed under our noses. However, it didn’t come into play here – the group was already NDA’d and as far as was apparent at the time, we couldn’t just arbitrarily add people to that group.

The only problem arose when the announcement from Microsoft (I’m sure unintentionally) made it sound they the whole thing had been WaSP rubber-stamped. The MSTF had consulted on it, but the vast majority of WaSP members hadn’t even seen the proposal. It would have been great to be able to have a bit more of a headsup than Aaron and team were legally allowed to give us, but even that in itself would have not been a problem had the announcement not come across in the way it did. The trust that Kimberly and I placed in the MSTF was well placed.

It was incredibly important to disclaim our perceived absolute approval of the proposal. As you well know, a large part of the Project’s purpose is to represent the interests of every day in-the-trenches web designers and developers to big companies like Microsoft. Whilst we work with Microsoft it is ultimately to push our agenda (the interests of the little guy) not help them achieve theirs. As time goes on, the two more closely align, which is terrific, but we’re not here just to blindly rubber-stamp anything they suggest. In this case it was so clear that this proposal was coming from one company and existed to serve their interests and their interests only, we needed to be clear that this wasn’t just ok. That we weren’t signing away everyone’s lives on their behalf.

So yes, we disclaimed. Hopefully designers and developers were reassured through that simple action that we’ve not completely forgotten who we exist to represent.

Oh, at the risk of embarrassing the host of this blog, it was just less than a year ago that Brendan Eich of Mozilla (and dad of JavaScript) was asked a question at the Ajax Experience in Boston.

The attendee asked “What will solve browser and interoperability issues once and for all”

Brendan grabbed the microphone and said “I have three things to say: Dean Edwards, Dean Edwards, Dean Edwards.”

The point isn’t just to show how important Dean’s contributions have been, but to also show that individuals are individuals, not the groups that they necessarily work with.

I seem to recall a day, some 8 years ago now, where a guy named Zeldman felt that his name had become too entangled with WaSP. That individuals want their individual roles and responsibilities clarified is wholly justified and natural.

Enough from me, dammit. I’m in Australia and about to go on a journey up the coast. I hope everyone involved in this ongoing debacle takes a day away from their computers and goes somewhere beautiful, makes love with a loved one, gets pissing drunk, or anything to get some fresh air in the room.

Mommy kissed it better.;-)

  • Comment by: -dean
  • Posted:

[…] For Zeldman (a person I greatly respect and who invited Drew and myself onto WaSP all those years ago) to call out Drew and compare the current issue to the work that we did with Dreamweaver under his leadership, is unfair. Although the work we did for Macromedia was under NDA, other people in WaSP were also asked to be under NDA and we had a member of the main steering group (Dori Smith) working with us. So if we started to do anything contrary to the spirit of WaSP we had a more senior member there to pull us up about it. When we posted any announcement about the product we would get approval of the content first. No-one told us we had to do that, it just seemed like the right thing to do if something was to be put out as an announcement on the WaSP website. […]


“If you’re not working with Microsoft, and not working with phone browsers, and not working on HTML 5 or voicing concerns about problems with HTML 5, and not recommending or criticizing WCAG 2, what exactly is this star-studded organization doing?”

i for one have been very vocal in the initial discussions in HTML 5 concerning removal of alt attributes and the like, liaising with WAI and making them aware of potential issues in that respect. in the last 2 calls for review, i’ve filed probably around 50 or so comments on WCAG 2, have buzzed about it, and presented on the topic on a few (admittedly low key) events. colleagues in the ATF have also tried (though, through lack of support, failed) to raise issues concerning accessibility issues in the microformats ABBR pattern…all those things were done by individuals of the “grassroots coalition”, talking as individuals but with the knowledge and support of the ATF.

it’s saddening then that, while we’re eagerly beavering away at small, sizeable projects, there’s a splinter group within WaSP working with MS, with the rest of WaSP not even knowing anything about it, who then drop this bombshell. the “it wasn’t me” comments – childish, in your opinion – point to a far more fundamental problem with the way this has been handled by WaSP management…something that certainly needs to be redressed. but to now say that none of us at WaSP has done anything is unfair.

[…] I’m still working out my whole response to the Microsoft versioning idea (and feeling sad as the WaSP eats itself). […]

A seemingly coincidental piece that is really pertinent to this issue:

I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but I will, just in case: if IE7 rendering (i.e. broken W3C) becomes the default IE8/9/10 mode, then Firefox, et al will forever be locked out of the enterprise environment.

  • Comment by: DavidONE
  • Posted:

I commend Richard York’s proposals posted earlier; very much on the right track.

@Richard: I made some concrete suggestions for cleaning up the syntax of Chris Wilson’s proposal posted on the MSDN IE blog, rough and ready though they were.

I’d appreciate some further debate on how to clean up these issues.

  • Comment by: Cecil Ward
  • Posted:

[…] In case you’ve missed it, you can warm up here, here and here. […]

[…] – Leszek Swirski […]

[…] 综合:A List Apart2篇,John Resig,Dean Edwards,Safari,Mozilla,456 Berea Street消息 […]

<META http-equiv=”Page-Enter” CONTENT=”RevealTrans(Duration=4,Transition=0)”>

Hard to believe this is something new from MS…one step forward…and two backwards.


Drew, thanks. I understand now why WaSP steering committee members expressed surprise when the proposal was unveiled, and why they were quick to clarify that version targeting was not a group-sponsored WaSP recommendation. You were simply setting the record straight. (Not that anyone claimed it was a WaSP proposal; but the Project’s endorsement was inferable.)

I understand now that you didn’t have the option to discuss the proposal internally. But it was natural to believe that WaSP members knew and had communicated about anything as significant, and as potentially divisive, as a version targeting proposal from Microsoft. That’s how The Web Standards Project used to operate; it’s how any organization with leaders and subcommittees normally works. It’s not fair that you were denied the ability to discuss the proposal in advance.

Disclaiming prior knowledge had the unfortunate effect of making WaSP appear disorganized. (Which, in truth, it always has been.) The rush to disclaim WaSP authorship of the proposal also unfortunately left Aaron Gustafson twisting in the wind. As his friend and the publisher of his article, I felt roused to his defense.

Microsoft asked certain WaSP members and other experts to help craft a standards-switch strategy to move past a technical problem. The community has every right to debate the merits of the proposal, but no one should question the intentions of those who worked on it.

Dean, you said and you may still believe that “Microsoft actively used the WaSP name in promoting this idea.” I can see why this would anger you if it were so. Maybe it is so. But it seems to me that Microsoft was asking the standards community for input, not attempting to fool the public. (Think about it: would Chris Wilson really try to fool the public into thinking The WaSP had endorsed something it didn’t even know about?)

Molly, I regret the manner in which I expressed myself, but not the core idea, although I apparently haven’t conveyed that idea well. I’m not accusing WaSP of doing nothing. I’m saying the group needs to do a better job of communicating. The *group*, and not the individual members.

Patrick, I commend you for your leadership on HTML 5, but individual action is not the same as WaSP action. WaSP needs to be more than an affinity group, more than a group blog for people who take action on behalf of web standards _as individuals._

This community is still hungry for the group’s leadership. WaSP, when it works, is bigger than any of us. It is a rallying point.

When standards-based controversies have arisen, especially in the past two years, I have looked to to see what I should be thinking or worrying or doing something about, but I have not learned there what I needed to learn. For instance, last year when Molly blogged that there was a crisis in web standards, her urgency persuaded me that something was indeed wrong; but when I went to to find out what it was, I learned nothing. (That, Molly, was my point.)

WaSP may be working with tool makers, browser developers, policy-makers, schools and universities, developer groups and the W3C, but the community that looks to The Web Standards Project for guidance does not know what you are doing, and does not hear your encouraging, unified, authoritative voice.

I believe you have it in you to cohere as a group and to provide leadership in this time. I said this the wrong way when I spoke in anger; but I believe with my heart that WaSP is needed and can rise to and surpass this challenge.

  • Comment by: zeldman
  • Posted:


You have no idea how soothing to my soul it is to read your comments here.

I, too, still believe. I always have. I always hope I will.

Thank you for working through it. You can see now why I couldn’t provide you with all the reasons – I knew too much and have not only an NDA but a vendor relationship with Microsoft and could not express much more THAN my emotional responses.

Now maybe we can in fact clear the air a bit and get moving on figuring out next steps: Community, leadership, direction.

peace, M

So it looks like there’s consensus about (meaning strong resistance against) Microsoft’s “proposal” everywhere, except within the WaSP? Hope this kind of irony means a “false positive”.

If you take a look back at the last ten years of MS suggestions and proposals for the internet, you will find, that they always tried to break it (make it better for them). I am wondering, why there are still people listening to Microsoft.

  • Comment by: Rainer
  • Posted:

I believe IE8 should take a lesson from the IETab interface:

And then, for server-side control:

Then system administrators can configure a load with all the supported intranet applications already lined up for compatibility, and the average IE user (and developer) can begin to appreciate the standards the rest of the world has been familiar with for years.

[…] 在最近一期的 Alistapart 在线杂志中, Web Standards Project 的 Aaron Gustafson 发表了Microsoft与WaSP共同商讨的关于解决同一浏览器的不同版本的兼容性问题的办法。这一解决办法已经引起了 大量热烈的讨论 。 […]

I’ll be happy to add a tag to use a compliant version of IE, it should kill some of the usual re-hashing required where we end up with a normal style-sheet then a IE <5.5, IE 6 and IE7 syle-sheet.

In reality the "don’t break the web" makes sense, although were all incensed by the idea of adding a tag to use "standards rendering" rather then the doc type, in reality it makes sense. Not all users will take up the upgrade, some idiots will stick with Older versions out of ignorance or laziness (ooo a sweeping statement), and these users still want a web that works and realistically don’t care less about web standards and in the most don’t care about accessibility.

Eventually after time has passed and the IE 8.2 or 9 (god knows) has hit the web they can remove the tag… and then it can go into a conditional tag till eventually the compliant version that doesn’t require it is widely used.

Microsoft are not perfect, neither are the Mozilla FF team and Satan erm Safari is no where near perfect. Maybe its about time we all stopped making it a whipping bitch for complaints and accepted that we will have to make concessions, the fact MS is making it a small concession in adding a tag is a good thing for us all.

At least the new team are trying; albeit because the browser market share is dropping. IE7 was a heap of monkey poop that created a need for yet another style-sheet, and IE8 has the problem of having to advance without ruining peoples fixes (like IE7 did).

Good luck to them, poor poor bastards.

Dean is it possible one day to make a post on the real job of WaSP? It could help us to understand the aim of this group…. Thanks.

[…] The idea was that this could allow the large number of websites built to to work with Microsoft’s (buggy) browser, but not built to industry best practices (notably corporate intranets), would continue to work by default. However, by manually opting into webstandards, it makes it too easy for websites to be lazily built without adhering to best practices, not to mention complicating web development and Microsoft’s browser development and creating lots of debate. […]

Microsoft appears to have reversed course. If so, this is good news, and they should be applauded.

Especially if they finally do a really good job of supporting the standards.

  • Comment by: Jesse Pelton
  • Posted:

They have started revealing some of the improvements nwo that MIX is underway

  • Comment by: Justin
  • Posted:

These kind of threads depress me. Here we are in 2008 and it never ceases to amaze me how hard it still is to produce a simple website that looks the same on all common browsers. I’m working on one at the moment that refuses to display properly in IE6 despite being standards compliant. If this change makes a difference, I’m all for it, but personally I’d still like to see Microsoft fix what’s out there before working on new stuff.


Well, that’s because IE6 is from 2000 or 2001 (isn’t it?). It is frustrating that MS sat on it for so long before releasing a new version and that it is taking so long to phase it out.

  • Comment by: Justin
  • Posted:

“I have a dream that one day every browser will display every website in the same way, …”

Reading all the comments I was surprised that there are still so much people saying “Huh, please don’t change anything because we’ve dealt with the old standards all the time and we are used to them.” Sorry, but I really can’t understand that way of thinking. We’re not in the Middle Ages at all and we don’t burn people blaming them for witchcraft for inventing a better way of plowing a field.

I totally agree to the issue that there are loads of websites using old standards and these probably won’t look the same, but this is – imo – no point against progress. It will make further webdevelopment and -design much easier if we don’t have to cope with 100 of browsers (an versions..) interpreting HTML/CSS instructions in 100 of different ways.

Im sorry for the people still using IE 6 or less, but hey, it’s there own fault as Chris pointed out (“Not all users will take up the upgrade, some idiots will stick with Older versions out of ignorance or laziness (ooo a sweeping statement)”)

See you, Pascal

[…] – Leszek Swirski […]

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