I’m not a religious reader of John Dvorak. I don’t consider him a web developer, so when he posts articles like this one blaming the standards community for failing to do what it promised to do, I can’t help feeling that he’s misdirected. But is he?
The problems he mentions, mostly how instructions cascade, are nothing new to web developers who have been working with CSS for a while. I almost want to say he should be putting the blame on browsers, but that’s not his issue. The issue is that he’s new to CSS and I would bet that even if he were only using one browser, he’d still have his issues. I think if he thought of it more like applying styles in Word or something, he’d find it easier to understand.
Coincidentally, today Zeldman posted An Angry Fix which comments on recent departures from the W3C, which is supposed to be leading the CSS standards effort but is failing in some respects. I agree with him and hope the W3C can correct its course. The most interesting part was when Zeldman mentions that develpors may start looking elsewhere… Microformats.
And why not? Microformats adhere to standards, but they are higher level. Anyone able to understand XML data should be able to understand a microformat. And just as it takes someone with more knowledge to write an XSD template for an XML file, we’d expect someone with more knowledge to write a CSS file for a microformat. Maybe by adding a LayoutFormats or MacroFormats we’d eventually not have a use for the W3C. The key is for developers to contribute.
While I see the benefits of microformats, I haven’t been a big user of them. I’m definitely going to pay closer attention now.