In November 2008 I asked “Why Did SMIL and SVG Fail?” The post suggested reasons why the W3C’s Scaleable Vector Graphics standard (which became a W3C recommendation in 2003) had failed to be widely deployed in the market place.
In the comments to my post a number of people pointed at the lack of support for SVG in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as a significant factor in SVG’s failure to be adopted.
Despite the economic gloom the new year has seen some good news with the announcement by Patrick Dengler, Senior Program Manager of the Internet Explorer Team that “Microsoft Joins W3C SVG Working Group“. And as described in an article on “Microsoft joins IE SVG standards party” published in The Register: “Commentors responding to Dengler’s post overwhelmingly welcomed Microsoft’s move, with people hoping it’ll lead to SVG support in IE 9“.
So what are the lessons regarding a standard released in 2003 for which it takes 7 years before a company which appears to be essential for its successful deployment shows interest. And even if IE 9 does have support for the standard how long will it be before the user community discards the legacy browsers such as IE 6, 7 and 8. Let’s not forget that there is still significant usage of IE 6.
The lesson: we tend to be too over-optimistic of the benefits of open standards and their take-up.
The response: we need to take a risk assessment and risk management approach to standards.