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Rant1: The WWW

Some people may be looking at this website and thinking:
"Oh, this isn't a very good website, because there are no flashy graphics, moving images, sounds, music, Java, interactive buttons or anything"
Well, these are probably also the same people sitting in front of their Windows computers, browsing the WWW via the little blue "e" in their desktop.

If this sounds like you, then let me tell you that you are the unknowing accomplice in a global conspiracy to destroy one of the greatest and most essential things about the WWW; Open Standards. Here are two analogies:

  1. If you buy an electrical appliance in the UK, you expect it to come with a plug that will fit your sockets, and you also expect it to be able to use the kind of electricity that comes out of your sockets. The plugs and sockets are adhering to a standard; you can take your appliance anywhere and it will work in the standard sockets.
  2. Programmers write code which is then processed by a compiler before being usable. They have to follow the correct syntax of the language; any non-compliant or ambiguous lines and the compiler will refuse to continue. This is essential - there is no other way it could work. It allows the same code to be compiled by different compilers to produce functionally identical output.

The WWW is just like this - a standard language, HyperText Markup Language (HTML) defines the syntax that allows the browser to interpret the page data and render the output. Web pages should comply with the standard.

Some web browsers do not adhere to the standard correctly. Some will produce output pages from invalid code by guessing what the author wanted. This can only lead to the spread of non-compliant code, which won't work in proper browsers. This is bad.

Internet Explorer is the most guilty party in this shambles, particularly because its standards non-compliance has been used as part of a monopolistic push by Microsoft to dominate the web browser market. And it's working. As soon as it feels it is able to get away with it, Internet Explorer will start supporting proprietary extensions that only work with Microsoft servers, and on Microsoft operating systems. If you think this is not a big deal, because there are no operating systems other then Windows, then check out the Netcraft Survey. This is the largest and most respected web server survey. And look; Microsoft is not dominating - yet.

Every time you use Internet Explorer, you are contributing to a Microsoft-only WWW.

So, what are the alternatives? Here are a few popular browsers that have more respect for you:

And here are a few alternative operating systems that you should at least know exist:

Oh, and you see that HTML button at the bottom right? That means this page is valid HTML; click on it to take you to the official HTML validator which you can use to check how valid your favourite websites are.
Last updated: 27th February 2001
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001 Jonathan Stevens
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