A quick note about standards
andrew-ubuntu-devel at pileofstuff.org
Wed Jun 3 05:04:07 UTC 2009
A couple of times in recent discussions, It's been asserted that
standards should be followed at all times. Without commenting on
specific cases, I'd like to explain why it's not generally that simple.
A standard is the textual equivalent of a programming library: a tool
created by a lot of smart guys with significant expertise in their domain.
Like libraries, some standards are universally adopted (zlib, cargo
containers); some are rejected (libesd, OSI); and some are the subject
of endless flamewars (widget sets, power plugs).
Also like libraries, anyone can write one and nobody agrees on what goes
in one. For example, Ecma believes that a standard should be an
accurate description of current practice, whereas ISO believes that a
standard should be a consensus-based reflection of national interests.
Standards should certainly be followed in many cases. For example,
you'd be as much a fool to reinvent Unicode as you would be to reinvent
libgcrypt. But there's a constant need to evaluate the appropriateness
of individual standards to the task you're working on.
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