Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 182 - The History and Future of Web Standards with Molly Holzschlag from

October 02, 2009 Comment on this post [12] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Internationalization | Open Source | Podcast
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photo My one-hundred-and-eighty-second podcast is up. Scott's in Mexico this week and he's sitting down with Molly Holzschlag. Molly is a well-known Web standards advocate, instructor, and author and currently works for Opera as an evangelist. She explains the history of HTML, SGML and XML and we chat about where we think the web is headed.

Molly is on Twitter, and at

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Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate aboutTelerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 02, 2009 23:34
Correctly works for Opera? Can you incorrectly work for a company? Guess I should listen to the podcast to find out...
October 03, 2009 0:57
Oops..."currently works for..."
October 03, 2009 1:21
Meaty show, thanks. More on HTML5 please, or perhaps a show on Google Wave.
October 03, 2009 2:33
Cool podcast, It was recorded @ Sofware Guru 2009 at Monterrey Mexico.

Both conferences where awesome. Scott was very kind. Awesome presentation. Amazing Person.

Thanks Scott!!!!

Saludos desde Monterrey, tu casa es mi casa!!
October 03, 2009 20:36
Scott, I love listening to your podcasts, you always have very insightful questions and the discussions are always stimulating (except that one on javascript, that guy was out of his depth).

What has drawn my comment for the first time in 200 episodes is your myopic view of Google Chrome Frame and Wave. Plain and simple the IE team is not progressive, every release since IE6's heyday ended has been a catchup release, implementing features that other browsers had spearheaded.

There is no collusion between Wave, Chrome and Google corporate trying to force their ONE browser on users. Wave runs perfectly well on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, on 3 OS platforms (I'm not familiar enough with Opera to comment on it's functionality). IE just does not support the HTML5 features needed to execute such an ambitious web application in the open-standards space. It isn't about the Google developers punting, not having the skill, or desire to write an application using "Open Standards".

I see Chrome Frame born from exasperated developers dealing with IE in the web world. We all know why IE is so pervasive, it is directly linked to the pervasiveness of the Windows OS. Outside of tech savvy users IE is preeminently dominant. With Wave attempting to be a revolutionary advance to the 60's technology that is SMTP email (I am still a bit sceptical of it's ability to become that ubiquitous, we'll see) , what is Google to do with IE users?

I personally know this pain; to this very day when working on commercial sites I have to write kludgy, and ugly workarounds because IE6 still accounts for ~12-25% of the visitors to general e-commerce sites. It's just a fact that creating CSS, javascript, and html workarounds for IE is a huge drain on productivity, in a lot of cases the advanced features just cannot be accomplished on IE have to be ifdef'd out and replaced with down-level replacements. For this stagnation I can never forgive Microsoft.

I have to also comment on the "one engine" part of the discussion. Web standards are not driven by working groups, they are driven by the fast-moving organism that is the WWW, see XHTML vs HTML, and SOAP vs REST for examples of web grown standards transcending and obsoleting standards-group "standards". We do need one engine, and that engine needs to be as open as the web is. That is exactly why webkit has been exploding in use lately, webkit and the webkit community are establishing tomorrow's web standards, not the W3C.

I'm not saying that webkit should be that one engine (though I think it'd be a great canidate). Just imagine the fantastic things that we all could accomplish if all the competing browser vendors were spending their time on one engine!

I look forward to your next podcast!

October 04, 2009 0:24
I was writing the following here when I found out that this was a better location to discuss the podcasts:

Hi Scott, don't blame me, but this is the first interview of you I'm hearing and it was an interesting session, I usually don't stick to the end but this was worth it (ok, I skipped the jingles).

What struck me was the little side discussion on the DOCTYPE. Its passiveness: if it's there, it can be ignored unless validation is in order. Then its new role: doctype switching. I always considered it a buggy nuisance back then, why not simply request conformance? Why should adding a doctype matter for the way a page looks? Actually it should not. The striking bit was Molly claiming that this "hack" was a necessity to move forward. I wished they used another hack or none at all (switch only if doc is valid, otherwise compat mode) as we still suffer from its legacy.

Scary: one render engine

It's a scary thought to see a "one render engine" situation advocated. I believe it's superstitious to think this will show better progress and faster adoption of new standards, or even invention thereof (as Josh says in a previous comment). The W3C has showed that collaboration is both a good thing (where would we be now without HTML, XML or CSS) and a bad thing (CSS 2.1 still not a Recommendation! XSLT 2.0 took 8 years, SVG/SMIL went too slow and never really made it). One engine has already been shown to be a bad thing (Microsoft embraced new ideas, but has its IE dominance proved well in the long run?), or has it? It has taught us one thing: once users embrace a certain tool or technology, they won't let go easily: people stick to what they are accustomed to, which is IE6. Without its quirks, we had less trouble designing beauty now, but without its existence, there may not have been an AJAX in the first place (remember IE introducing XHR).

But as was said in this interview: nobody knows the future. HTML5 will only very slowly be adopted by browsers (it's a moving "standard"), and even if they did it tomorrow with IE9, OP11, Chrome5 and FF4, it will take another decade to loose the heritage that's currently on each and every desktop.

-- Abel --
October 04, 2009 17:51
Hi Scott,
Thanks you for amazing podcast. I think, this podcast was different from your 5 previous podcasts.
By the way, If you’re still in Mexico, please tell Molly that her website’s RSS feeds doesn’t work :D (As you can check it out at
I wanted to follow her posts via Google Reader but there were no RSS 2.0 feeds.

Thank you again for great podcasts. Mohammad.
October 05, 2009 0:50

The biggest difference between IE and Webkit is that IE6 was a closed, proprietary engine, and Webkit is open and free. Don't you think that there were hundreds of developers and companies that wouldn't have loved to fix IE6 when Microsoft seemed to have abandoned it? Eventually they did fix it, by writing a new browser in Firefox.

Webkit being open and free has allowed a large amount of collaboration between many companies and developers, and has driven the rapid adoption of new working body and common-law standards. It's a fact that browsers based on Webkit are more progressive and push out feature and bug fix updates more often than the other browsers. This is a great thing for the fluidity of the organism that is the WWW.

What we don't need is a single closed, and proprietary render engine; in fact I'm convinced that we don't need any.

October 05, 2009 21:46
Chrome Frame isn't something we should panic about, and I think it's a bit, umm, odd for anyone from Microsoft to worry aloud about browser monoculture.

First, there's no chance that CF will dominate the market, no matter how easy they make it. Lagging corporate environments with extremely limited permissions are the main reason we still have so many IE6 browsers out there, and CF can't change that any more than they can get home IE6 users on board. This is the inertia constraint.

Second, sites need to request CF to activate it.

Third, anyone worried that CF will result in "one rendering engine" are basically saying that we already have only one to start with: Trident. (CF isn't likely to push so hard for Firefox installs, since there isn't really the same technological urgency.) Even if all corporate environments were to allow CF immediately, we would move from 83% IE, 30% Firefox, 10% Safari, 2.5% Chrome, and ~3% other (>100% because people use more than one browser) to 85.5% Chrome, 30% Firefox, 10% Safari, and ~3% other. That's not "one rendering engine".

Fourth, this has been tried before: Mozilla had an ActiveX control for years that could be embedded in IE, and DENG was an embedded Flash browser that provided extensive standards support even before that.
October 13, 2009 19:18
This show was educational as well as entertaining. It got me excited about HTML 5. However, it probably will be released in 2022 based on Ian Hickson of Google. The develop is so slow and Software Engineers are so engaged in what's important NOW that it seems to me that it makes little sense to care about HTML 5 until 2021. That is assuming the steering committee bothers to keep track with the time and change the working draft several times because technology can take multiple 360 degree turns in a decade.
October 15, 2009 12:33
nice, thanks for sharing
October 15, 2009 21:06
are you have some problem in your eyes in your some video i see your amazing eys then give me answer or mail me are your eyes natural or not because in MSDN video your eyes have rotate wonderfully

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.