Standards for hardware, software, units, whatever.
You’ve probably experienced it a couple of times already. You use a tool or format because it’s, in your circles, accepted as the standard. All fine and dandy, until you have to move away for a bit, and the place you end up in uses something entirely different for the same purpose. Well known example is power outlets. Good luck fitting your weird American plugs into our beautiful European “German style” outlets. You’ll be surprised to find how many different shapes they come in, hot damn.
But then something peculiar happens. Someone sees this mess of self-proclaimed “standards” and decides that, hey, those aren’t standards at all. I need to invent a proper standard for this! And so he adds yet another one to the pile.
It’s not all that applicable to power outlets, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t happen every so often in the rapid-moving world of tech. This can easily lead to a giant clusterfuck of formats you have to take into account when, for example, developing software.
Have been diving into that RSS reader I want to make, and I was surprised to find how many different formats there are (and how poorly set up those XML files are in general). Sure we got the well-known RSS and its smaller competitor Atom, but apparently Yahoo’s also got a custom format. There’s a bunch of others, and for the larger one you also have to take older versions into account. Let me tell you, it’s a fucking mess. (Luckily I found SimplePie. Though info is a bit rough to find, it’s allowed me to make some good progress.)
I want things to be simple as much as the next guy, but don’t get me wrong, I think the variety has some importance, too. It allows people to choose what suits their needs best. Yes, it makes lives for engineers and developers worldwide a lot harder, but sometimes that’s a tradeoff you have to make I suppose.
So much effort though.