Opera China and Web Standards

Together with my colleague Henny Swan I've been working in the China Beijing office for the last few weeks which has been really interesting both in terms of getting to know the country and also the state of web standards in China. I thought it would be useful to share some of the thoughts and conversations I had with people around the importance of creating standards compliant web page.

1. What's the relationship between market share and standards?

Most major browsers have put in lots of effort in web standards. Opera for example, has always been very supportive of standards work. Our CTO, Håkon Wium Lie, is the co-founder of CSS, and we are the first browser to fully support SVG ship with this level of SVG support. This is our dedication to standards. Other major browsers are also paying more attention, we expect Microsoft to have stronger standards support with the upcoming IE8.

2. Why are web standards lacking in Asia?

Asia is at a disadvantage when it comes to web standards. This is partly because most materials are in English which not everyone is able to understand. Our Beijing colleague also cited the notion of practicality, "since IE has a huge dominance in China, it is reasonable just to code to IE when resources are low".

However, this is beginning to change with the emergence of mobile web and alternative mobile browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.

3. How can web standards benefit chinese developers?

Henny was quick to point out that web standards is a key part in internationalizing local sites. Developers from different countries might have different habits and preference. This is where web standards come into play as they pull together everyone and create a common platform. Also, with mobile Internet booming in China, developers will want their sites to function well on different handsets with varying display.

A third benefit of web standards is for your less able bodied users who need pages to be accessible. Building with web standards means you have a robust framework to support international, mobile and disabled users. Three birds one stone!

4. What is Opera's effort in creating web standards awareness in China?

Opera is committed in spreading web standards awareness into different communities. Through OpenTheWeb movement, Opera communicates with major Chinese web sites, such as TaoBao, to make sure that their sites are web standards compliant. The effort not only benefits browsers, but the whole web community.

To find out more about web standards check out the Opera Web Standards Curriculum.