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Re: Formal definition of HTML5 (was Re: Version information)

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 13:55:12 -0500
To: Henrik Dvergsdal <henrik.dvergsdal@hibo.no>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Message-Id: <1176749712.18620.146.camel@dirk>

On Mon, 2007-04-16 at 14:01 +0100, James Graham wrote:
> Henrik Dvergsdal wrote:
[I'm filling in a bit more context...]
> > On 16. apr. 2007, at 03.50, Ian Hickson wrote:
> 
> > > What's the _advantage_ of
> > > having an official formal schema?
> > >
> > > Note that I'm not at all opposed to
> > > making publicly available unofficial formal grammars.
> 
> > First of all I'm not suggesting the schema should be an add-on to the  
> > english prose. What I suggest is that we make an official schema and  
> > then hardwire it into the prose by replacing the syntax definitions  
> > in the prose with excerpts from the schema, much like its done in the  
> > HTML 4 standard.
> >
> > 6. It will make the text of the standard more accessible, at least for 
> > "competent" developers. When you get used to the formal syntax it is 
> > much easier to read than the prose.
[...] 
> I would suggest this experience alone 
> highlights two points in favour of English prose:
> 
> 1) It is accessible to those without a background in computer science. This 
> probably includes the majority of web developers. There is little point in 
> making document conformance requirements in a language that is not spoken by 
> those looking to produce documents.


On the other hand, there's the question of whether the spec is aimed
primarily at most web developers or at implementers of user
agents (and authoring tools, and ...). Be that as it may...

It comes down to the tastes, preferences, and experience of
(a) the editor(s)
(b) the reviewers, in and around the WG
(c) the eventual readers of the spec.

Henrik offers this as a suggestion; presumably, a suggestion to
the editor. The chairs haven't appointed an editor yet, but
currently, we have one clear offer to serve as editor of the spec,
from Ian Hickson. He has strong views on the relative merits of
formalisms other than English prose, and a coherent argument behind it,
and a body of HTML spec text written that way.
I'm not sure I agree, but I don't expect to convince him
otherwise any time soon, and I'm OK with reviewing English prose.

Given that, I'm inclined to see the formal definition task
as supplementary. If you're interested to work on it on
that basis, I encourage you to make a note in the
HtmlTaskBrainstorm wiki topic.
  http://esw.w3.org/topic/HtmlTaskBrainstorm

I'm still considering a WBS survey, so that might be another opportunity
to volunteer or to find other volunteers.

If you want to note your interest in this topic by email,
an outline or a draft or a pointer to an article or a weblog
item that you've written might be worth distributing to a few hundred
mailboxes (it's good to put pointers in the wiki too, or perhaps
instead) but if you just want to say "+1" or "count me in", please
use the wiki or wait for a survey rather than sending email.



-- 
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
D3C2 887B 0F92 6005 C541  0875 0F91 96DE 6E52 C29E
Received on Monday, 16 April 2007 18:55:23 GMT

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