The Perils of (In)Compatibility

Some people argue passionately that extensions to any standard, whether proprietary to one vendor or generally adopted, are a good thing. They give users a chance to try out new and (hopefully) interesting capabilities and provide a platform for informed consensus about what should be included in the next standard. “This helps make things better in the long run,” runs the argument.

We view proprietary extensions as more of a mixed blessing: True, they help advance the state of the art, but they also create haves and have-nots on the Web. That is, those who have the right browser can partake of this bounty, but others, who do not have the right software, cannot. Even though this division is as inevitable on the Web as it is anywhere else in the world, that doesn't mean we have to like it!

The only truly rational argument we can find against using proprietary extensions is that it complicates page testing. Because some browsers can't render what other browsers can, you need to test your pages in both environments to make sure they work equally well on both sides of the tracks. If properly approached, this means more work for you. But because you can do anything you want with HTML anyway, we'll let you decide!

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