Framework Web: Innovation Vs Standards

I’ve been designing and developing for the web for many years now (about 14) and the relatively recent rise of advanced Frameworks to help web designers work better and faster, has been quite overwhelming, as well as highly appreciated.

I personally like the Twitter Bootstrap very much, as it offers powerful tools as well as a solid structure and responsivness, but I have used various other frameworks in the past and I’m always interested in trying new ones.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the Foundation Framework for a while and its WordPress ready themes (which is probably the biggest pro about it, for me at least), but honestly, the increasing use of semi-proprietary developed features (after all it’s made by ZURB, a web design firm) and the use of Sass / Compass (other indipendently developed CSS Frameworks and processors) is kinda starting to worry me.

While I think that innovation and creativity should always rule every aspect of technology, I feel like the amount of different “stuff” being developed all around and on top of CSS and JS (not so much the HTML itself), is starting to create some sort of “branches”, that stray from standards, at a pace and in ways, that it soon could lead to a mess of technology, procedures and confusion that are not so good for the web design and development community.

The sad truth is that the so-called standards are extremely limited, if compared to the dynamism of the web.
The W3C is failing in providing unity and clarity in the web design world, with the most painfully slow standardization process ever.
It’s almost hilarious to think that some are still trying to validate their code. Yes it’s possible but if you ask me, it doesn’t even make sense anymore.

If you think that the 5th major review of HTML and CSS3 are due to become officially a standard around 2020, you will agree that a language that is nowadays consistently used across major websites around the world, cannot wait years for its own official launch, as by the time that will happen there will most probably be a dozen of other indipendently developed languages or workarounds and it’s going to be near to impossible for browsers to keep up, hence user experience could get really messy.

You may argue that everything is still developed following HTML and JS standards so things work just fine (yes kind of, for now), but what about, say, CSS? Sass / Compass and less, are the perfect example of how limited resources push people to develop better, more powerful and innovative tools, but also how something is definitely spinning out of control and could seriously become an issue in a not-so-far future.
This is clearly not the developers’ fault, they’re simply doing their job better and sharing it with other developers, as well as improving their users’ and clients’ experience with what they build for them.

In my opinion, the problem here is that who is in charge of keeping things under control, helping browser developers to build better experiences and web designers creating awesome websites, has totally lost sight of their role and how to manage it.

When looking at the Twitter Boostrap, Foundation or Ink Frameworks for example, it’s more than obvious that they are extremely similar in their scope, structure and features.
This means that resources are being dispersed and instead of working together, with the W3C learning from such great projects, they’re going in the same direction but on parallel tracks, hence leading eventually to different “schools of thought”, procedures, opinions, languages and everything in between.

Now tell me how this is going to look, say 3 years from now? To me, like a big unmanagable mess.

After all the work, passion and effort teams across the world put into these projects, it’s crazy to think that the W3C still doesn’t aknowledge the existence of a very different world out there, if compared to how web development and design was at the time the W3C was founded (1994).

It may not be clear why I keep going on about the W3C, well it’s very simple: browsers must be made so that they can offer the best experience possible to users, and in order to so, they need a general direction on what to improve and what to upgrade, language-wise. If browser developers feel like there isn’t a clear and up-to-date direction anymore, they will start (and they have already), developing their own standards while blocking other browsers’ technology (and you perfectly know this has already happened). This results in developers having to cope with a moltitude of languages and technology that sometimes can’t achieve the same results and overall damaging users’ experience.

I’m done with this rant, but I hope it’s clear that I appreciate so much these developers’ work that it pains me to know that at some point, all these noble resolutions may turn against all web users, not just developers.

I’m very interested in knowing your opinion about this:

  1. Do you think that the current web tech innovation speed could lead to chaos, if not addressed or organized?
  2. Do standards still make sense? And if yes is the current situation acceptable? What could be done to improve it?
  3. How long is an acceptable time, for certain upgrades and improvements to become a standard?
  4. Should different teams team up instead of working on the same objectives, but developing different/similar tools?
  5. Should the W3C change everything about it and get more realistic? Should they get teams across the world involved more?