The Need for Diversity

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Chris Wilson (Microsoft) in a recent interview with Kevin Yank at Sitepoint stressed the need of diversity for a healthy Web Ecosystem:

Chris Wilson: As for building on WebKit or Gecko or any of the other engines, part of that I'm sure probably is that we would have to leap through some licensing challenges there. But, the biggest reason for me is that there's a real responsibility when we ship code, particularly to half a billion people, and we would be taking on that responsibility for a set of code that we don't own, we didn't come up with it, we're not experts in it, and there's a lot of code there. But we're blamed if something goes wrong; even further than that, we're responsible for it if something goes wrong. So, you know, if there's a security exploit, we have to go fix it, we have to go deliver the fix immediately, or it's-- we're on the line for that. And that makes it a bit challenging. And when I look at the other toolkits out there, I think that on the amount of work that they've put in to completing some standards work or, you know, taking on a bunch of different standards that we haven't gotten to yet, I think they've done some great things; I don't think it's so great that the only answer really should be, "Let's go take that engine." One of the things that I know that I really would like to see from the standardization side of my job, you know, from my HTML Working Group co-chair, and kind of co-ordinating our other standards involvement -- One of the things that I would point out too is that, really, the more implementations that you have that work differently, the better you make your standards. Because, otherwise, you end up just relying on one implementation to define what the standard is, and in a way that sort of happened with IE for awhile. Before that, it absolutely was happening that Netscape defined what the standard was. I mean, we had to be compatible with Netscape, because that's what people wrote their content to. So I think that having multiple implementations is really a good thing; that's why the W3C requires it.

An ecosystem is healthy when its constituents are diverse. In November 2004, Tristan Nitot (Mozilla) was saying:

I don't believe in the "one size fits all" approach. Diversity and standards-compliance are the key to a healthy Web.

It's not the only key to success but it is definitely part of the answer.

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