November 12, 2004

Web Standards and the Inestimable Zeldman

Best viewed in Netscape 2.0!For many of us web designers, MeetTheMakers.com's 2003 A Conversation With Jeffrey Zeldman On Web Standards is a "new" must-read about Web Standards, the history, whys and wherefores.

I remember reading, years ago and with some alarm and much rejection, exhortations to stop supporting "old" browsers such as Netscape 4.x and, instead, to use code supported only (and fairly imperfectly) by new browsers, in the hopeful dream of causing website visitors to upgrade their browsers. Meaning: who knew how many visitors would see what would amount to a visually "broken" website? And this, at a time when even more people than today didn't know what a browser might be.

A quick quote:

"The story is that — at the height of the browser wars — you told me you were designing a site that looked best in Netscape 4.01r2 — no less and no more. Shortly after that, WaSP was born. I know you think it was that 'best viewed in Netscape 4.01r2' crack of yours that pushed me over the edge, and it did.

"But you may overestimate your influence. I am not a colossus who single-handedly whipped Microsoft and Netscape."

Aside from anything else, this is about someone who, despite the furor aroused by such a stance and the constant commercial cautions regarding backwards cross-browser compatibility brought about by the Netscape/Microsoft browser wars, yet pushed forward in doing the right thing. A man with a vision.

Read it and tell me you don't agree. <grin>

Back then, I felt the new-browser-only approach to be instant commercial death. Today, a lot of us figure the time is (beyond) right, and are playing catch-up. More Zeldman:

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