The ineffable Chris Blizzard wrote a nice article about "Innovations in browsers". Let me give you my CSS WG point of view on innovations and browsers:

  • CSS 3 Selectors were proposed by Netscape (more specifically the author of the current prose) AND implemented by Microsoft in MacIE and Netscape
  • CSS 3 Columns were proposed AND implemented by Opera (also implemented now by Mozilla)
  • border-radius was introduced by Mozilla long before standardization
  • multiple border colors too
  • CSS 3 Transforms, Transitions and Animations were proposed AND implemented by Apple
  • Media Queries were proposed AND implemented by Opera (and others now)
  • Microsoft was instrumental in the birth and existence of CSS 3 Text
  • the volatile CSS 3 Variables was proposed by Apple and Disruptive Innovations AND implemented (even if later removed) by Apple
  • the CSS 3 content property applied to all element was proposed by the author of the current prose (very) long ago and implemented by Opera even if the spec is still not a REC
  • the list of properties that are already implemented, shipped and used by zillions of web authors is longer than my arm...

CSS won. It's the only stylesheet language available on the Web and it's here to stay. Since software vendors increasingly look at HTML/CSS/JS as a platform of choice for their internal data, rendering engines' implementors need to urgently fill a fewmany gaps. That's one of the reasons why Microsoft for instance introduced so many -mso-* properties in the past. That's why Mozilla added its own -moz-* properties. All these properties - and the features they represent - have a tendency to be compatible with general users' requests and they naturally end up on the standardization table at some point.

I think I see the point in Joe's message though : standardization can be slow. It can be slow because it's always a compromise. But it's not always slow... In the case of CSS, most browser vendors want to see CSS evolve at fast pace and be implemented and shipped interoperably. Users want, users need new features to make the Web evolve and the race to new declarative ways of doing cool presentation stuff is tough.

Joe, don't be afraid of standardization, it's still and only the topping on the cake: innovation still starts inside browsers, it's usually still implemented long before REC, users do pick the best features, users send us feedback and input, and it's still a browser war. The process you highlight in your tweet *is* what happens on a daily basis but only one thing changed between 1998 and now : browser vendors all know they cannot remain alone implementing the new cool kid on the block.