The folks at Vitamin Talent collaborated with Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman to create a very pretty infographic called “A Brief History of Web Standards.” Visually, it’s stunning with a black matte and an array of vivid accent-colors. But the content therein disappoints me a bit.
I am one of the pioneers of web standards. I’ve been building websites with web standards since I began writing code nearly fifteen years ago, wrote a avant-garde article on using CSS in HTML emails, and single handedly convinced the agency where I worked as an interactive creative director to adopt CSS and XHTML for their websites.
Because of my history with web standards I have a pretty solid understanding of its history. While this infographic outlines most of the most important milestones in the history of web standards I believe there are some key elements missing. Namely two of the most important in the history of web standards: WaSP and Mozilla.
WaSP (Web Standards Project) is undeniably one of the most influential components to building a web on standards. The name itself is evident of their relevance, but their actual contributions were immense. They helped shaped the standards and served as a sun in the growing universe of standards-compliant web design. Yet not so much as a mention of them in the infographic.
In the browser world, Mozilla’s contributions to web standards can not be understated. While Microsoft was serving itself with a forthright discontent for web standards, Mozilla was working feverishly to build a compliant browser to improve the lives of web designers as well as web users.
With Netscape’s announcement to release their browser source code as open source, Mozilla immediately got to work building the Mozilla browser. In 2002 Mozilla release Phoenix, which in 2004 became Firefox. It was the most compliant browser the web had seen. It was absolutely fantastic, and it gave web designers hope that a standards-based web was on the horizon.
2001 marked a critical year for CSS support on the web as IE 6 began showing signs of a future of support. 2003 presented us with Safari, which afforded us rock-solid standards support right out of the gate. And by 2004, with the release of Firefox 1.0, we had three promising browsers on the market.
So what troubles me is that this infographic affords Internet Explorer credit for propelling web standards with its increasing support for CSS and XMLHttpRequest, yet only one mention of Firefox as a panel in a quilt of standards-compliant browsers.
Every web designer who has helped shape web standards with years of battles and hard work knows that Internet Explorer has been an enemy all along. An enemy against production efficiency, browsing safety, and support for standards-based web technologies. And all the while Mozilla worked their asses off to help build a more access web with a browser that far surpassed IE’s support for CSS and other standards-based technologies.
So why is so much credit given to IE throughout this infographic while Firefox is all but unmentioned? I understand this is a brief history, but there was plenty of space afforded to Microsoft, so I would imagine there could have been space available for Mozilla. After all, Microsoft has been a thorn in the side of every standards-minded web designer in history, while we all had love for Mozilla.
I felt compelled to post this because I have worked hard over the years to help shape web standards. And because the names Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman, and Aquent are powerful enough to spread this infographic far and wide, it will likely cross the eyes of thousands of web designers, some knowledgeable about web standards and many new to web design as a whole. Consequently I believe credit for the history of web standards should be properly distributed. Unfortunately, with this particular infographic I believe it was not.
It’s awesome that they created this infographic and, as I mentioned, it’s beautiful. I simply believe it missed the mark on some key components of its makeup. And while I’m obviously a mite disgruntled I retain my unwavering love for Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman. Two people who should have their names permanently embedded into the core of the history of web standards.