Why Bother With Standards?

Mozilla, as an organization and product, has made implementing and developing open standards a core part of its mission from the beginning. But what is so important about standards?

I was listening to a presentation by Mitchell the other day, and one phrase in particular stood out: “Standards compliance is important because it ensures the portability of my data”. We don’t expend huge amounts of time and effort on open standards and standards compliance because of marketplace pressure. Open standards are a guarantee that the documents and data that our users are reading and writing today will continue to be available to us permanently in the future. Open standards are an essential service to the users of Firefox and to the web as a whole.

This is why Mozilla has spent so much effort implementing open video and the <video> element in HTML. And this is why open video is fundamentally better for users than Flash video or even patent-encumbered formats such as H.264.

Atom Feed for Comments 4 Responses to “Why Bother With Standards?”

  1. Robert Accettura Says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    People really don’t get this. This is a large part of why I’m so wary of using things like Facebook as an alternative to email. While email may not be perfect… it’s mine and it can’t be modified or removed in any way I don’t approve of. I have a domain to help ensure I can pick up and move at will.

    My data is mine.

  2. Duv Says:

    I feel the same away with the video tag… spoke about it myself. Found here: http://duvworld.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/debate-001-video-and-audio-still-have-a-long-way-to-go-on-the-web/

    I am sure that I simplified a great deal but that is my feelings on the subject.

    @Robert:

    Some people do get it, others don’t. For those that don’t see why they should care about standards, there are many examples (recently the MS-Word/OOXML injunction comes to mind) where it is a good idea to have standards in the open in mind.

    Control of ones own data is something I always advocate since having control over the date means insuring that it’s your data… when you don’t control the data, it’s never yours to begin with.

  3. pd Says:

    open theora blah might be the best option but it’s still a poor option until it has universal browser support.

    Let’s hope Google open sources an On2 codec though I guess maybe Microsoft will still find a reason not to support that.

  4. Matthew Fabb Says:

    “Open standards are a guarantee that the documents and data that our users are reading and writing today will continue to be available to us permanently in the future.”
    I have to disagree, as websites designed with Firefox 1 in mind are likely to look quite different with Firefox 3.5. Certainly the HTML websites I did back in the late 90′s are at times barely readable in todays browsers rendering engines. Users have to use old browsers to view older websites, which are getting harder to install on modern operating systems.

    Yet old Flash 4 and 5 websites that I did many years ago, still look no different than they first launched and work perfectly fine. In 10 years from now, will browsers still include Theora codec? What if a new better open source codec has come along (like if Google open sources some of On2′s codec?) and browsers start dropping Theora support? I would definitely like to see backwards capability become a goal for Mozilla and other browsers, but currently that does not seem to be a concern, while it is a major concern for Adobe with the Flash plugin.

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