Netscape Communications is taking Microsoft to task for not supporting Web standards more rigorously in its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser. Unfortunately, the irony of the accusation will be lost on many. After almost 2 years of silence, the company that gave us the BLINK tag is at it again--attempting to drum up developer support for its upcoming browser release. Powered by an admittedly advanced browser rendering engine dubbed "Gecko," Netscape Communicator 6.0 represents the first time the company has done much more than pay lip service to Web standards. Its browser products have been notorious for snubbing the standards the company now advocates. Still, it's almost refreshing to hear from a suddenly feisty Netscape; the company has been a virtual no-show since AOL purchased it.

"Netscape Standards Challenge," a document the company's marketing department prepared, compares various Web standards in IE and Gecko. Not surprisingly, the yet-to-be-released Gecko comes out on top, with better support for the Document Object Model (DOM), Resource Description Language (RDL), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Level 1 (note that IE supports Level 2), HTML (the lingua franca of the Web), and XML.

For Web developers, these are important issues. And although I would caution anyone against seeing anything through Netscape-colored glasses, this little treatise is no worse than similar documents from Microsoft. And, ironic though it is, Netscape's embracing Web standards is good news. If you're a Web developer, I strongly recommend checking out "Netscape Standards Challenge" on the Netscape Web site