This movement by the self-proclaimed Web Standards Project is crazy. The gist of it is that web developers should start programming with as much dhtml as they please, and refer people whose browser doesn't pass the if (document.all || document.getElementById) test to the page I have linked above (and again right there!).

If you ask me, WaSP (where did that "a" come from, exactly?), is whining. There's a plethora of browsers out on the net these days, and not every one is going to support the latest and greatest suggestions from the w3c like [insert your browser of choice] does. You're going to have to write the page awfully cleverly once or fairly well twice to get your content out there to the masses, and they don't want to do this. Wasn't getting our content out to everyone in some crazy democratic kind of way the whole point behind the net?

The bottom line is this: If you have a Internet site, no matter how insignificant, you also have customers that are going to use Netscape 4.7 and Lynx -- or even IE 2.0 on their Windows 3.1 machine -- and if you want them to see your goods, you're going to have to continue to rewrite your page at least once in a relatively low-teach standard like html 4.0 transitional. Where I work, people with disabilities are a pretty high priority (in spite my unncessary use of tables in this blog; that's apparently not so kosher for screen readers) -- believe me, if Microsoft and the Mozilla team are having a hard time keeping pace with the latest from w3c and have ended up with quite different implementations, the people who make the programs that read web pages for the blind are quite a few steps further behind. You don't have to shoot for the lowest common denominator to support it.

The premise that web programmers should have the audience come to them instead of doing the extra work to reach the audience is not unlike a Visual Basic programmer whining that Sun should make its virtual machine support their code rather than having the programmer bother to learn Java. WaSP seems to be hiding behind the excuse that due to their use of standards their forced technology upgrade is legitimate.

To people with a 68k Mac (you'll never run Mozilla with Mac Classic 8.1, sorry) or who need their screens read to them, convoluted tricks that make pages less book-like and more TV commercial like is still about much more useful as a BetaMax movie is over a book. I suppose the WaSP idea is more like those restaurants where you're better off refilling your own drink than waiting for the wait staff. You're a web developer! Making accessible pages is your job!

If you want to use the latest and greatest to make your job a little easier and provide a better delivery mechanism for 80 plus percent of your viewers, knock yourself out. But to claim that you can't write a standards compliant page that gives content to 100% of your potential audience is bogus. Worst case: Write twice, read everywhere. Better yet, as some of the well produced sites out there show is possible, write standards-based code that truly degrades gracefully. It's extra work, but that's what you're getting paid for, not for typing location.replace("")

Phew. End vent. :^) That's a little overstated, but so is their propaganda for what they probably believe, so we'll call it even. Like I said, even this page isn't a paragon of web accessibility, so I can't cast too many stones. Gimme a few weeks. :^)