The World Wide Web as we know today is a vast interlinking of websites all over the world open to all for information sharing, working, socializing and entertainment. It was first envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 and he called his program WorldWideWeb, with one essential component, that of universality.
In these times of phenomenal technological growth where the web has spread its consuming net to all corners of the globe, certain universally accepted rules have to be put in place to ensure order and the full realization of the Web’s potentials. This is the role of web standards as represented by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA). The standards include the following:
- HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
- Extensible Markup Language (XML)
- eXtensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML)
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- Document Object Module Level 1 (DOM 1)
The technical details of the web standards are best left to the experts, but the impact of the standards to the industry and the user public is of paramount concern.
To Web Developers
Proponents of web standards argue that the standards would make web development easier, faster and more systematic because there are set rules and processes to follow. While others claim that the standards hamper innovation, creativity for enhancements is still encouraged as long as such enhancements do not go outside the bounds of the standards.
Accessibility, usability and compatibility must be guaranteed to each and every Web user across the globe. Web standards must ensure use of the Web by all people who are capable of using it including those with physical impairments to include helpful output devices like voice browsers, Braille browsers or hand-held browsers. Compatibility will also be less of a problem as the standards will create programs that will make old versions compatible with new ones and new versions to automatically degrade to old versions. This is like a dream, but even the World Wide Web started as a dream.
Aware of the problem of inconsistencies between web designs and varied browser versions, web developers who are advocates of web standards are concerned with the universal accessibility of the Web especially with the emergence of additional software and hardware that are now able to browse the Web like telephones, PDAs and pagers. With this in mind, they are pushing for the universal acceptance and adoption of web standards to make the Web a better place in which to communicate, work, socialize and be entertained. In short, web standards are surely something to be embraced, the ultimate goal being that of making the web truly inclusive for all.