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Re: Formally Object to Referencing WhatWG within the W3C HTML5 specification

From: T.J. Crowder <tj@crowdersoftware.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 07:11:19 +0100
Message-ID: <AANLkTinl9_iCfWGoBA538m_k0E7f65i-AmP1QDMJ1JU-@mail.gmail.com>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: public-html-comments@w3.org
Hi Bijan,

On 9 June 2010 17:01, Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk> wrote:

> [snip]
> On 9 Jun 2010, at 15:57, T.J. Crowder wrote:
> [snip]
>> What I wrote was:
>>  FWIW, completely agree that there must be one specification for HTML5.
>>> Unless the W3C is prepared to step back and let the WhatWG take ownership,
>>> that spec must be "owned" by the W3C. Pages like this one [
>>> http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/] are very
>>> confusing. I've seen it cited in online discussions as "the HTML5 standard"
>>> (and why shouldn't someone think it was? It says "draft standard" on it).
>>> The work of the WhatWG is extremely important, it has driven and
>>> continues to drive this process forward where HTML had been under- and
>>> mis-specified for years. That work needs to be credited and honored, but as
>>> HTML5 is becoming the new baseline, there needs to be a single definitive
>>> source of normative information about it, with other sources of draft
>>> proposals (not standards, not specifications)
> You don't mean "not specifications" do you? It's hard to see how you can
> propose something without providing a specification of what you propose.

You need to specify your proposal, sure. I think there's a pretty clear
distinction between doing that and having an alternate HTML5 specification,
which is what seems to exist at the address I gave.

> very, very clearly labelled as such.
>> Having a competing "specification" is a sure route to fracture and
>> failure. I hope no one wants that. Those of us relying on these standards
>> certainly don't.
> There are two HTML 4 standards, the W3C "recommendation" and ISO/IEC
> 15445:2000(E):
>        http://www.scss.tcd.ie/misc/15445/15445.html
> Some purists might insist that only the latter is a standard :), but there
> are definitely two specifications. Now, editorially, the ISO spec is a "diff
> by ref" spec, so there are some differences.

Those differences are the crux. If I go to the ISO standard, I don't find an
alternate list of elements. I find a document saying, in essence, "this
document creates a standard based on the W3C specification, with some
restrictions, which are listed here." That isn't a competing specification,
it's a standard based on a specification.

And you're quite right, the ISO document is the "standard," the W3C document
is the "specification." I used the word "standard" in my earlier email in
the casual sense that many use when referring to well-established, normative
W3C documents, but that's a bad idea in this discussion.

If the WHATWG spec remains a superset, then I think the likely *technical*
> fragmentation reasonably can be seen as fairly minimal.
> Whether there are significant social/marketing issues, well, I guess the
> real question is *how* significant they are. That I don't know.

Nor I. But as an indication, when I first started delving into HTML5, I was
certainly confused by there being two widely-publicized and linked
"specifications" for HTML5. I've seen other people being confused by that,
and I don't think it's just that we're easily confused people. The W3C
version needs to either be the spec, or not, and if it is it needs not to be
referring back to a different document also claiming to be an HTML5
specification (whether or not it follows that with "with additions").

For clarity, that's the one issue I'm weighing in on, as a member of one of
the large target audiences. I'm not commenting on (or endorsing comments on)
issues of copyright, licensing, or other issues raised in this thread.

T.J. Crowder
Independent Software Consultant
tj / crowder software / com
Received on Thursday, 10 June 2010 06:12:12 UTC

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