|CSS3 - Coming Soon to a Browser near You|
Review: After the Great Winter of no updates to CSS and most W3C standards CSS3 thaws
The CSS3 Directions
This party was expecting CSS3 to be desultory and tentative with very little outside of small incremental changes to CSS3. However to my surprise the working groups have produced a varied and in some cases very media oriented set of proposed changes to CSS3. However, a warning is due. CSS3 has been broken up into about 20 modules - which are not moving uniformly through the standards process. Some modules are already completed recommendations while others are still in the working draft stages. So even W3C took a sabbatical during Redmond's imposed decade long Great Winter of no changes to Web standards. But now here is what's up (largest sources are CSS3.info and WebToolkit and NIST CSS3 Test cases):
However despite the long wait, the number and scope of CSS3 recommendations make it into a major update. There are some very useful innovations on pages and multi-column layouts, more definitive color and opacity control, plus more recognition of special devices and media. Also, as in the case of CSS 2.1, CSS3 addresses a number of issues with CSS1 and 2 implementations. For example, by changing the CSS3 syntax drop shadows can be implemented more effectively. However, it should also be pointed out that searching through all the W3C modules (at least 20) with their various working drafts is tedious work - since level 1 and 2 standards are also explained there.
Also it is hard to get a bead on what is likely to be implemented by the major browser and app development vendors. It is worthwhile to note that Adobe with Flash and Cold Fusion, IBM with some of the Rational line of tools, Oracle with JDeveloper, Sun with Java Studio Creator plus NetBeans and many others have adopted CSS as their styling tool - many times outside of the Web context. So Application Tool developers as well as browser vendors have a lot of influence on the rate of adoption of CSS3. And its worthwhile pointing out that all the major browser vendors except Microsoft have made some major CSS3 implementations in their browsers already.
But even with these it is hard to pin down what will get adopted. So instead I will identify some of the CSS3 features I like and why. Hopefully, users will follow the first 3 links above into CSS3 and see what strikes their fancy.
So instead of compliance I see Microsoft doing a Vista - sending out an IE8 loaded with proprietary and semi-open standards (rivals to W3C and other standards but partially open and supported by some standards shop like ECMA or of their own making - think ECMA C# and Open XML, XAML, SilverLight as prototypes). Then Microsoft will stand on its ever more tightly coupled Rock of Monopoly Gibraltar - 90% desktop OS share, 90% Office share, 70% browser share, 60% Exchange Mail share, 70% Server 2003 share in key market segments, etc - and say to the IT community as it is doing with Vista, take it or leave it.
And for the record, IT continues to support Windows and Vista despite it being the highest cost OS by far, the most bloated in terms of resources requirements, and no longer any better than Linux or Apple in terms of device support and even applications support. Likewise, in the browser field, IE has lost only 20-25% market share despite being the browser that has the least standards compliance, having the most resource requirements, having a new and sometime confusing UI and has less features than Firefox and Opera the former of which has literally hundreds of add-ons for huge extensibility advantages. In sum, I expect Microsoft to want to capitalize on the inertia and timidity of the IT community to enable Redmond to seal off its desktop and server monopolies from Web 2.0 and Open Source incursions with a defensive wall of semi-open and frankly proprietary standards such that Redmond can more readily defend its monopoly market shares.
Now some will argue that Live and commitment to Web 2.0 wont allow this. That CTO Ray Ozzie has broader vision and generally employs less draconian tactics. However, the countervailing executive suite includes CSO-Chief Strategy Officer Craig Mundie, CEO Steve Ballmer, and Chairman Bill Gates who have all proved to be much more belligerent than Ray.
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