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Open Standards and why you need them
2005-06-04 23:57:16
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Imagine the internet without open standards , no tcp-ip , no html , thousands of different email protocols . It would be a mess and certainly not as popular. To stop it disolving into a mess we need to keep using open standards and shun closed ones.

Almost every technology that is of daily use to mankind is built around open standards. The most common examples are weights and measures, ergonomics and languages. Starting a human interface project without a basic understanding and compliance to these basic principles is quite rightly considered madness.

Without adherence to these standards your work could be meaningless to anyone else but you. Growth of ideas would be very slow and tedious as confusion would reign over all but the most meticulously organised.

Luckily that hell is easily escaped and the route is paved with RFC's and IEEE specifications. It may seem boring reading through pages of documentation to find out the correct approach but i can gaurantee its a lot less boring than trying to fix incompatibilities later on. Some of the documentation is quite heavy but it makes more sense the more you read it , there is nothing quite like really knowing how something works.

Good standards are defined by working groups containing memebers of various professional bodies and prominant academics. Microsofts standards are rarely open and are usually tied to their products in an unreasonable way . MSHTML vs w3 consortium HTML is a great example. W3 have been maintaining a huge list of standards for web development for years and microsoft instead of contributing to the main standard created their own when they wanted extensions. The result ? more web browser incompatibility and lots of broken javascript.

Standards compliance allows you to spend less time adding work-arounds or dangerous hacks and more on adding usefull features which just work on everything. Choosing a bad standard means early data obsolescence , painfull interoprability and potentially backing your self into a proprietary corner. Choose wisely.

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