Keep It Simple Stupid. Yes, that’s right. Simplicity. Simple isn’t it. Apparently not. Somebody clearly didn’t tell the guys over at the World Wide Web Consortium when it came to writing the specifications that are supposed to define how the web works!
The other day I attempted to use Amazon’s web services API. In order to figure what methods were available I had to read the WSDL file. All well and good providing you can actually read a WSDL file, especially one as extensive as Amazon’s. Anyway, not being completely familar with WSDL I trudged over to the W3 site to the read the spec. I won’t bore you with the details but needless to say it was painful. I was lost after the first couple of paragraphs. This seems to be the case with all of the W3C’s specifications. They are unreadable! Contrast this with the specification for XML-RPC: short and easy to understand. Sure it may not have all the bells and whistles of SOAP, for example, but it’s good enough. How are developers supposed to implement the W3C’s specs if nobody understands them. Could the reason why we haven’t seen an explosion in Semantic Web applications simply be the fact that nobody understands how the damn thing works? Well, except Tim Berners-Lee, and he doesn’t give interviews to the media.
If specifications are to be implemented they need to be understandable. So the next time you are about to write a technical specification remember, Keep It Simple Stupid!