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Re: What problem is this task force trying to solve and why?

From: Michael Champion <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2010 17:46:43 +0000
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>, "public-html-xml@w3.org" <public-html-xml@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C93215EE.8347%michael.champion@microsoft.com>
While I'm probably "better known" for XML things than HTML things, my
current day job is highly focused on the HTML5 family of emerging
standards and their implementation by various teams at Microsoft. So, I'm
definitely here wearing an HTML hat, and agree with Henri that it's not
going to be productive to suggest large changes to HTML5, especially to
make it more XML-like. At TPAC I heard use cases about problems caused by
some of the *details* of the HTML5 parsing algorithm that create very
different infosets than an XHTML parser would.  Cataloging such problems
and brainstorming solutions seems very much in scope for this TF.
Speaking only for myself, I can envision some fixes happening on the XML
side, in the HTML5 spec, or both; the choice of where to make fixes needs
to be based on a pragmatic assessment of what must be changed, how the
changes can be deployed, and how many actual people would be affected.

During my time on the XML team at Microsoft, I learned that XML is very
widely used, but it is *infrastructure*, figuratively buried under the
floor.  Very few people are aware that what happens when they plug an
external device their computer or start their car depends heavily on
XML...and that's just fine.  The last thing on earth the XML community
should want to do is make them aware of that dependence by breaking the

It's clear to me that the draconian error handling rule is far and away
the biggest reason for XML's failure on the Web. That probably could be
changed without breaking the existing infrastructure. I'm not sure that's
worth doing, but probably it's a good thing for the TF to discuss.

So overall, I envision the mission of this task force being to work on
peaceful coexistence of HTML5 and XML.

Michael Champion

On 12/18/10 4:49 AM, "Henri Sivonen" <hsivonen@iki.fi> wrote:

>TimBL mentioned the creation of this task force at TPAC, his talk had the
>word "convergence" in the title. I think the word "unification" was used,
>too, but I don't see that word in the TPAC day minutes.
>After hallway discussions, I concluded that different people expect
>different things from this task force, such as putting Namespaces into
>text/html or making text/html parseable using an XML parser.
>I think the first question this task force needs to answer is: What
>problem is this task force trying to solve and why?
>Since I'm posing the question, I think I should give my answer to it.
>I see a tendency by some (not all) people who are primarily familiar with
>XML to want to change HTML when they see HTML5. Typical wishes are
>putting the Namespaces in XML syntax into HTML or making HTML parse more
>like XML. I see this tendency to want to change HTML to be more like XML
>as a problem. It's natural for people who've worked with XML to want
>familiarity, but it does not follow that HTML or the Web community would
>be well served by changing HTML. I suspect substantial changes to HTML
>would be damaging. What I'd like this task force to solve is to make
>people who are primarily familiar with XML no longer to react to HTML by
>wanting to change it. Maybe this could be accomplished by simply raising
>awareness of the Infoset Coercion section of HTML5 and its implementation
>in tools. Maybe this could be accomplished by giving XML non-Draconian
>error handling, since this trait of HTML seems to be considered an
>advantage over XML in hindsight. (I realize that there also exists the
>opposite point of view that vigorously considers Draconian error handling
>to be an advantage.)
>(As far as I can tell, I'm the only participant in this task force who is
>better known for doing HTML things than for doing XML things and the
>other participants are more famous for doing XML than for doing HTML
>things. It's unclear if this shows a bias on the part of the inviter or
>on the part of the accepters of the invitation.)
>Henri Sivonen
Received on Saturday, 18 December 2010 17:47:21 UTC

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