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ISSUE-176 Change Proposal

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 13:52:56 -0500
Message-ID: <4E821B88.3020505@burningbird.net>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org
CC: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>
Per request from HTML WG co-chairs[1], I'd like to submit the following 
Change Proposal for Issue 176: Revert the Edit that removed the Editing 
API from the HTML5 specification.

Summary:

Recently, the HTML5 editor, Ian Hickson, removed the entire section 
known as the Editing API from the HTML5 specification. However, the 
material was not incorporated into a new W3C Working Draft, and as the 
situation now stands, there is no text defining the Editing API for all 
user agents.

The Problem:

The Editing API section of the HTML5 specification has been in the 
document for some years now, and has been at least partially implemented 
by more than one user agent. To remove this section leaves this API 
undocumented, which could lead to lack of interoperability between 
implementations within the various user agents.

In addition, by having this text in the HTML5 specification, and 
controlled by the HTML WG, the concepts covered in the specifications 
fall under the patent agreements that members enter into when they join 
W3C working groups. This is important to ensure that all relevant user 
agents feel comfortable implementing the Editing API, and that all HTML 
WG members are made aware of any potential patent claims related to this 
material before implementing this section.

(Incidental to this Change Proposal, but possibly relevant: Recently, 
the W3C issued a Call for Exclusion for the HTML5 specification, as it 
is defined in the HTML5 Last Call document. This LC document does 
include the Editing API[2].  Frankly, I'm not sure what it means from a 
legal stand point to issue a Call for Exclusion on material that is 
subsequently and unilaterally removed from the WG document by one member 
company, only. Perhaps the W3C Legal department should comment on this?)

As noted in the bug that led to this issue, not every member 
representing a major HTML5 user agent agrees with the move to remove the 
text documenting the Editing API completely from the W3C[3].

It's not as if the material covered is outside of the scope of the HTML 
WG. Point of fact, the HTML WG is specifically chartered to provide 
documentation of an Editing API as part of its requirements for 
determining success[4]. In effect, removing this section undermines the 
HTML WG's effort to reach a successful conclusion.

Solution:

There are two possible solutions to the concerns outlined in the Problem 
section.

The first is to revert this edit, returning the Editing API section to 
the HTML5 specification. If the reason why the section was removed was 
because there are problems with the section, those who have concerns 
about this section can then submit bugs outlining their concerns, which 
can then be addressed individually.

The second is to propose a new Working Draft specification to the HTML 
WG that covers the Editing API. This would ensure that the Working 
Group's charter requirements are still met (providing documentation of 
the Editing API), and would have the added advantage of further 
simplifying the HTML5 specification--a worthy goal. If the editor of 
this new specification wishes to also address the technical concerns in 
the Editing API at the same time, I expect the group would find this 
acceptable. If any new technical concerns are introduced with the 
modifications, they can then be addressed individually as bugs.

(As it stands now, there is no way to address _any_ concerns about the 
Editing API section, because the section has been completely removed).

A third option has been floated, which is to form a group within the new 
W3C Community effort to encompass the Editing API. However, I do not 
find this to be a satisfactory solution to the concerns I listed 
earlier. The reason why is that, from my understanding of the W3C 
Community Group, it's complimentary to the Working Group efforts, not a 
replacement for the Working Groups. The ultimate goal for work coming 
out of the Community Groups (again, if I understand the purpose of this 
new W3C entity correctly),  is moving any specifications that arise in 
the Community Groups into Working Groups for formalization.

Such intermediate effort isn't necessary for the Editing API. The HTML 
WG is already chartered to provide some form of a deliverable for an 
Editing API. Work has been underway for some time in the group to 
provide an Editing API. It seems to me that trying to put this into a 
Community Group is really a backward step, and contravenes the intent of 
these Community Groups.

Impact:

Reverting the edit has little impact, and shouldn't take much time, as 
this is more of a version control change.

Creating a new document does take time, but has an added advantage of 
being able to address areas of concern with one single move. And it does 
simplify the HTML5 specification.

Thank you for your consideration of my change proposal.

Shelley Powers

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Sep/0186.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Sep/0100.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=13423#c17
[4] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter
Received on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 18:53:21 GMT

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