7 silliest W3C specs ever published

W3C is producing lots and lots of good specifications and we seriously have their joined effort to thank for a lot of today’s web. But everything released by them isn’t all nice. I’ve digged deep into obscure search results to find, that’s right, the silliest specifications ever. *Drumroll*.

HTML+TIME: Why not add timers to HTML? Didn’t you always want to only display that div only the first 4 seconds after load. Could this be combined with the blink tag somehow?

Predefined icon entities: No more images needed! Instead, let browsers implement whatever icons they want and just use them by typing &calculator;, &fax; or &www;. I love the example icon for &gopher;, is that an orc?

CURIE Syntax: There are also huge specifications for nothing. What about a 2000+ word specifcation for the syntax: “charcters:characters”? This is what happens when you put too many “scientists” in one room.

Micropayments in HTML: If you’re going to make micropayments on the web, first build your payment system, then add lots of attributes you don’t need. Then make sure you pick a short code for your payment system, and get that one in the spec. Ehmm. No.

Selecting Payment Over HTTP: If you are into paying, but don’t really like interfaces, this one is for you. You can’t pay through it though, just select how to pay. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

CSS Marquee Module Level 3: Remember the marquee element? What if you could implement that on any element, using only CSS3? Isn’t marquee behavior? I guess not. “The deadline for comments is 1 September 2008”.

Accessibility for old people: Very strange. This isn’t a specification but a literature review. Could this be the first step for W3C to go into book recommendations? I love the chapter of how to define an old person.

That’s all I can find. Now I leave it open to you to fill in with the comments about how useful they could be, and how SOAP should be in the list. Over to you, dear audience.

9 responses to “7 silliest W3C specs ever published

  1. Funny! :D

    The funniest thing about SOAP is that you could use it together with Ajax. We need a recommendation spelled Alternate Quality User Attributes or something to make it whole.

  2. Just as a side note ;) All of them are not recommendations.

    * HTML+TIME is a Note published mainly written by Microsoft and implemented in IE. The same principles are implemented in SMIL

    * Predefined Icons is a *Working Draft* from *1996*. ;) so not a spec.

    * Curie is still a *Last Call Working Draft*. The next step should be candidate recommendation calling for implementations. It is a highly debated document. You are welcome to leave comments about it.

    * Micropayments in HTML was a Working Draft (1999). The Activity has stopped. The Work didn’t find enough support. You have to imagine a context of this time. The question: How do we finance the business of online services? Advertisements was almost not existent. In France, the Minitel was a network of computer with successful micropayment at the time. Another path has been taken. Though somehow micropayment exists through the Mobile communications for example.

    * Same story. 1997

    * CSS3 Marquee. In development, still a WD, you are welcome to send your comments to the appropriate mailing list.

    * Accessibility for Old People is a very interesting documents. Work from WAI is used by many governments, institutions to define their policies development on accessibility. Many developed countries are having older and older users. Again this is a Working Draft it doesn’t mean it will become a Recommendation, it could end up as a Note.

    Basically what you are saying is that W3C has a system of publication with a strong policy of maintenance. It helps give stable references to documents in development. A Document depending on its maturity level, the market, the lack of implementations, etc. will stay a WD, becomes a note or eventually becomes a W3C Recommendation.

    Hope it helps to understand.

  3. @Karl Dubost: Nope, most of them are not recommendations, it was quite hard to find that many silly ones. Note that I didn’t explicitly said so either :)

    I see that as a W3C representative you don’t have any personal opinions about their silliness. Would be interesting to hear them! Thanks for the additional info though, appreciate it!

  4. I gave my opinion and explained why it made sense at the time it was published for some of them. Being an active participant of the Web and its development since its birth, it is always good to remember the historical context of their developments. For the recent ones:

    1. marquee (liking it or not) will not go away. But that would be better if it was not a tag, then the CSS rules for it. That said it doesn’t mean it will reach Rec stage. This will determine by implementation phase: Candidate Recommendation.

    2. Accessibility for Old People is far to be silly, but on this one I’m not sure how to convince you more than you spend time reading the document if not done yet. :)

    Indeed some things look silly retrospectively, it’s often why they didn’t go to Rec. but at the time they were topics often worth exploring and which help pushing the limits for future specifications. ;)

  5. @Karl Dubost: I see, but you sounded so official :) I guess that’s something you learn working with W3C too.

    I have no problem with specs going into the recommendation stage, silly or not. As a web developer, I can myself decide what implementation I want to make use of. It’s a system that works pretty well.

    1. Marquee: The thing that feels bad about this one is that we’re doing things with CSS that could easily be done with js. In my mind, animation is something that is better fitted to be handled in a scripting environment.

    2. Old people: I have no problem with what it says, it’s the form of it is really strange. The section that’s supposed to contain recommendations is empty, and everything before that is a literature review. That seems more like a research effort than a recommendation to me.

    I agree that it’s a sign of saneness that some of them didn’t go into the recommendation stage :)

  6. Chuckling at “sounded official” ;) I have usually a (bad?) tendency to try to stay neutral. Humour is a difficult thing to carry through this little box with someone you don’t know.

    About animation: declarative vs programmative. Long discussions with good arguments in both camps. Often declarative is something which is easier to handle for users with no big skills. HTML is relatively easy, a level of abstraction more is CSS, Javascript is then completly another world.

    SMIL Animation (included in SVG) is all about declarative animation, much easier to use than programming the same functionalities.

    TR/ doesn’t only contain technical specifications, but also guidelines, notes, primers, etc. It can be indeed misleading sometimes.

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