Current Events: Twenty Twenty Two and You

Posted: September 15, 2008 Comments(4)

It’s no secret that for a long time I have been a big proponent of Web standards. I base much of what I write about here around standardization of practices in Web design and development, and I honestly feel it’s a fantastic way to mold the Web into something much more usable than it is today.

It’s also widely known that many people have a hard time standing behind Web standards. I’m not speaking about those that simply plead ignorance when it comes to the subject, no. I’m writing about the respected designers and developers who in recent months (years?) have been very outspoken toward the lack of advancement we’ve been suffering with.

There is quite a large group who feel the powers that be are not advancing technology to the best of their ability. Who can blame them for feeling like that? A quick mention of CSS3 will put that into perspective. I do need to be clear: I am the last person to discount the efforts of anyone. I’m so very thankful for all the hard work that’s gone into the technology so far, but I need to be honest in saying that I’m equally as frustrated as many.

I’d love to be able to write CSS3 without a care in the world. On the same page, I’d love to not have to worry about cross browser consistencies as well. I’d love to drop support for IE6 like so many others. There are countless reasons why IE6 shouldn’t be a concern, but the trouble of the matter is this: my clients are using it. Sure, we all try to educate our clients, but I’ve had limited (if any) success in trying to produce a browser convert. The support of IE6 seems to be, in part, backed by knowledgeable designers. All I can do at this point is sit back and be jealous of their success. For the time being, it’s not in the cards for me (yet), but I anxiously await the day.


The latest strike against Web standards wasn’t a strike at all, it was a gut-wrenching twist from within. In a recent interview, well known and respected HTML5 editor [WHATWG] Ian Hickson, provided a timetable outlining the progress of HTML5. To get to the most interesting part: HTML5 will reach ‘Proposed Recommendation’ in the year 2022. It feels strange for me to type a year representing that long down the line, but it’s accurate.

It’s difficult for me to imagine a proposed timeline including milestones that far into the future. To me, in Internet years, 2022 feels like the year 4000. I think this timeline accurately represents the frustration held by many designers. I’d like to reference a quote from Jeff Croft. In his most recent article, Two Thousand Twenty Two he readily describes his frustration:

I’ve got work to do, here. I don’t have time to sit around reading specs and interviews by spec editors detailing what is going to happen in 13 years. God knows where I’ll be in 13 years. Quite frankly, I’ll be pretty […] disappointed in myself (and our entire industry) if I’m writing HTML in 13 years. Hell, if I’m still alive in 2022, I’ll think I haven’t been playing hard enough.

I care about right […] now. My clients care about right […] now. Our users care about right […] now

I will admit, I’ve gone ahead and removed a few choice words, but I completely sympathize with Jeff. I’m as excited about the evolution of HTML as the next guy, but 2022? I, like Jeff, don’t have time for that right now. I’ve got more work to do than I can shake a stick at, and trying to keep up with a spec that won’t be ready for 13 years is not in my best interest at this point. It’s depressing to say it, but I’ve got to focus on worrying about things today. My company does client work, and they’re not going to care one bit about any of this; they care about their budget, their timeline, and their website working in their browser.

Again, I cannot stress enough how appreciative I am of the geniuses behind this evolution. I respect everything being done to advance the Web, but I think at this point, things are shifting. Instead of proposed specifications and the like, we’re going to see the browser makers themselves take control of the reigns and begin implementation sooner than later. That’s what I’m excited about.

Of course, I will continue to keep an open mind about HTML5, but until it reaches a level of applicable usage, I plan on sticking with the toolset I’m given.

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  1. Well, standards have always been based on prior art and never on inventing things themselves. Why do people think any standards committee makes things for others to use? The idea is to set an idea that can be used by all, not come up with things on their own.

  2. 2022 is the planned date for having two complete bug-free implementations of the whole spec. The date for the spec itself to be “done” is more like 2009-2012 depending on what you consider “done”.

    We’ve never had two complete bug-free implementations of any major Web standard so far, so I think 2022 is actually quite optimistic. 🙂

  3. @Rob: I don’t think people completely depend on standards committees to ‘create’ per se, but if anyone is leading a movement (such as Web standards); it’s the committees. A formal committee will be able to produce results much quicker than sporadic work done by individuals, even if it is toward a common goal.

    @Ian Hickson: First and foremost, thanks very much for taking the time out of your (I’m sure dauntingly) busy schedule to leave your thoughts. I apologize if I didn’t focus enough on the scope of what you’re working so hard to do. It will be an amazing feat. I hope I didn’t inject too much opinion on the subject, as this post was meant to spread awareness. I can only hope and wish that all of your hard work pays off when the time comes.

  4. Lame! The web won’t wait till 2022. Many of the good projects done today are open source fueled by a large developer community right? So if HTML 5 isn’t around in five or six years, I don’t think anyone will be waiting for it.

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