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Keeping the web open

I don’t own an iThingy. Partly because I can’t afford one, partly because I don’t need one and partly because I generally prefer open source stuff.

So I was actually surprised to come across this impassioned article on developers building websites for Webkit only (the rendering engine behind Safari and Android), and the W3C’s proposal to adopt the -webkit- prefix as a de facto standard. Surprised because it strikes me as absurd that anyone would develop something on the web that only works for one browser.

After all, the whole idea of the web is that it’s accessible to anyone, regardless of whether they can afford an iPhone or Android smartphone. The nuts and bolts of the web are built on this idea: HTML and CSS are free, easy to learn, easy to distribute, easy to render and independent of corporate influence.

Maybe I’m old. I can remember the browser wars - a time when websites would only work in Internet Explorer. Banking websites would make visitors upgrade from Firefox to IE6. Can you imagine that now?

Graceful degradation is absolutely fine. But it’s frankly depressing that people are building websites that only work on certain devices, regardless of how trendy they are, or whether they’re made by Microsoft, Google or Apple. And none of these companies should control HTML and CSS standards. *[HTML]: HyperText Markup Language *[CSS]: Cascading Style Sheets