Urgent Call to Inaction from the W3C

Rarely do I find a need to call out the W3C folks (or anyone, for that matter), but the recent post by Daniel Glazman (@glazou), co-chair of the W3C CSS working group, pushed me over the edge.

In his article, he calls for everyone to, get this, stop using -webkit in their sites. He equates webkit, now a popular engine for most new mobile browsers, to IE6. Moreover, he calls it a “threat to the open web”.


This from the group responsible for years of delays in approving standards? Remember, these are the fine folks who for the past three years have cautioned web developers from using HTML5 (a term used a bit liberally to also include new CSS3, video, local storage, web sockets and other goodies) because they’re still working on drafts for it. Take the canvas tag, a webkit mainstay since 2005, which is still a W3C “working draft” — seven years later.

The only reason web developers are using these hot webkit (and gecko and now even internet explorer) features in the first place is we’re tired of waiting for this standards body to get off their collective ass and actually approve something.

Webkit is the new IE6? Really? If a vendor were to make a browser that only complied with approved W3C standards, you’d pretty much have IE6. So really, W3C itself is “the new IE6″.

For a representative of a non-profit organization to jump up and call for us to set our websites back 3-5 years is ridiculous. This is not a call to action, but a call for our inaction; to limit progress and the pursuit of competitive advantage in the name of some socialistic ideal created by a group who is even more monolithic in pace than in size. We’re talking a glacial, almost purposeful aim to slow innovation and plant a giant “STOP” sign in the evolution of the web.

In its glory, his article: CALL FOR ACTION: THE OPEN WEB NEEDS YOU NOW

I am asking all the Web Authors community to stop designing web sites for WebKit only, in particular when adding support for other browsers is only a matter of adding a few extra prefixed CSS properties.

I am asking all the Web Authors community to remove immediately and stop implementing WebKit-based browser sniffing in web sites. You own such a web site? Show your support for the Open Web and remove that browser sniffing immediately after you finish reading this call for action.

Contrast this with the W3C’s hesitation to green light, well, pretty much anything cool to come along in web development in the past five years.

To Daniel Glazman, I propose you spend more time working with your group to approve specs and less time bickering and whining about webkit. The whole “problem” of browser vendors moving on without you starts with how the W3C works, and not with the vendors themselves. To try and shift the blame and rally people to a cause they don’t fully understand is irresponsible and reprehensible. I believe the industry term for his call to action is “a load of crap”.

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