What makes web standard an actual standard

Web standards are mentioned so often (browser wars all over again) I started to realize that most people don’t have a clue what that means. I’ve also personal opinion on those words, for me it’s not wise multiply pages documents and recommendations. For me web standard is something that works and can be reliably used online .

But how technologies get to be one? Examples time.


Extensible Hypertext Markup Language had relatively easily phased out good old HTML as basic fundament of web. Most of pages are created using XHTML. Every single browser up to simplest ones on mobile devices has to support at least that much to be called Internet-capable.

Reasons behind such silent success? Excellent backwards compatibility and promises of bright XML future . Promises kinda vanished – to this day every single consumer browser still treats XHTML documents as tag soup instead of XML parsing.


Cascading Style Sheets took years to stand at equal ground with XHTML. They are still far from properly working between different browsers. Still it’s same – support these or get out. Without CSS web is text wall and few people want that.


Really Simple Syndication (or whatever it is called depending on specific format) is struggling for years to overcome its underused status. Excellent performance and embrace of publishers still hadn’t erased “techie toy” tag. By fact of its existence RSS undermines authority of XHTML/CSS empire . It’s pretty good at this but still not there.


Adobe Flash is slow, criticized and closed format. I have no actual idea how it had secured base of 97-98% of Internet-connected PCs. Oh wait – eye candy .


Microsoft Silverlight says nothing to most Internet users. Sheer fact of Microsoft part will force you to hear about it more and more with each year.


Scalable Vector Graphics is highly superior vector image format destined to rule web. Problem is no one into it. Masses hadn’t ever got idea of vector imaging – bunch of pixels is easier to understand. Publishers are so scared of browser incompatibility that thought of using breakthrough tech makes them faint. SVG is standard without followers.


BitTorrent file distribution protocol is by different evaluations 30-40% of global Internet traffic . And rising. It’s not free of problems however it is most solid implementation of file distribution in years. Downside? Corporate won’t even touch anything remotely associated with piracy (I am amazed they even use ftp). I think Opera is only consumer browser with out-of-the-box torrent support.

So what makes standard?

  • background entry to scene;
  • users’ sympathies;
  • carrot for publishers;
  • being invisible or very flashy – not the middle;
  • checks from huge corporations.

Secure position first, fail promises later. That’s the motto web standards of modern age hold.

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  • stelt #

    SVG without followers ? Actually people from various backgrounds are not just following it, they're using it, see a broad collection of examples via http://svg.startpagina.nl
  • Rarst #

    @stelt There are always fans to any technology. But where is mainstream support? :) Show me mainstream site using SVG graphics, show me popular blog theme using scalable images. I think closest example will be Wikipedia but even there SVG is thumbnailed in PNG for display. SVG is around seven years old? RSS is close as far as I remember. Compare the scale both are adopted at moment. Thanks for your visit and comment. :)
  • stelt #

    mainstream SVG support: read http://steltenpower.com/livreSVGeng.html Scalable images in blog: http://blog.codedread.com/ RSS (use) is easier to implement, doesn't have as much competition, is easier to explain to general public, is more visible when used.
  • Rarst #

    @stelt Thanks for links, I'll study them. :) >RSS (use) is easier to implement, doesn’t have as much competition, is easier to explain to general public, is more visible when used. That's exactly what post is about. Success of technology online depends on all of that and more. There are a lot of gears clicking and unfortunately being awesome technology is often not enough.
  • Lyndi #

    To make matters worse, they are currently developing HTML 5 as well as XHTML 2. The future could hold some more confusing things in store for all of us.
  • Rarst #

    @Lyndi Curious thing is proper development doesn't alway lead to wide adoption. It took some time to adopt XHTML, I don't think it can be phased out easily.
  • Nihar #

    Got to know new things after reading this. I should find out what the exact diff between HTML and XHTML. also read about SVG.
  • Rarst #

    @Nihar XHTML is not very different, stricter rules and deprecating some stuff in favor of using CSS. Just stick to using validators and you'll grasp it in no time https://www.rarst.net/software/html-validators/