The Web is a far-flung collection of technologies, programming languages, and people all working together. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that an 11-year-old in Fargo, North Dakota can create a Web site viewable by millions of people around the world, or even that hundreds of different browsers, from Internet Explorer to cell phones, can browse the same Web site. This kind of global communication owes its success in large part to the World Wide Web Consortium (the W3C), an organization composed of representatives from universities, research institutions, corporations, and government agencies dedicated to creating standards for different Internet-related technologies.
The W3C developed standards for HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML, and other Web languages, and continues to create new standards as technologies evolve. Thanks to these standards, companies have a guide to follow when creating new Web browsers.
It sure would be great if all companies followed the standards when building Web browsers, and all Web designers followed the standards when building Web pages. Then anyone with any Web browser could view any Web page. What a wonderful world that would be—you’d never have to test your Web pages in different browsers.
Of course, this kind of utopian thinking hasn’t always been applied by the major browser makers, Netscape and Microsoft. As a result, Web developers have been forced to come up with techniques to deal with the way different browsers display ...