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Scope and obsolescence of other specs (was Re: minor copy edits...)

From: Mike Brown <mike@skew.org>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 16:06:41 -0600 (MDT)
Message-Id: <200706182206.l5IM6fAk005709@chilled.skew.org>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: public-html@w3.org

> Could you elaborate on how they have "far greater scope"?

In general, the scope I refer to is the intent and niche of each spec, and the 
audiences addressed. Perhaps "greater" isn't the best word to create a 
distinction; sorry.

This is tangled up in the fact that I can't accept, even informally, the 
notion of HTML 5 "replacing" these other specs. Discouraging HTML authors, in 
general, from producing HTML 4 or XHTML 1.1 documents is one thing, but do you 
really mean to suggest that once HTML 5 is done, there will never be a need to 
produce XHTML 1.1 documents or process documents according to that spec's 
requirements for UAs?

You say (in the Intro, but not in the Status) that it's not a normative 
statement, but it's just too strong a statement to be informative. Again this 
falls under the "pretend we didn't say This; we really meant That" 
gesticulating that I find too sloppy and not in line with the way the 
referenced specs have handled things.

The HTML 5 spec's scope is, as I see it, to provide requirements for authors 
of "HTML 5" documents and implementers of UAs that process such documents. 
Likewise, the XHTML 1.1 spec is focused on providing requirements for authors 
of "XHTML 1.1" documents and implementers of XHTML 1.1 processors. Same for 
HTML 4.x and DOM Level 2 HTML -- these specs are authoritative for their own 
domains, and documents and UAs can claim conformance as they see fit. None 
replaces the other; they all coexist, fulfilling separate purposes. There is 
no single "HTML" document type or UA which these specs compete for authority 

In XHTML 1.1's case, consider its Modularization of XHTML basis, its "strictly 
conforming" document & UA requirements, and its inclusion of ruby markup. None 
of these are features of HTML 5, perhaps intentionally. If HTML 5 were truly 
replacing XHTML 1.1, it wouldn't dismiss all of this. People who want those 
things should be able to use them, and HTML 5 shouldn't prevent them. I don't 
think you intend for it to -- they just wouldn't be conforming to HTML 5 -- 
but the implication is otherwise.

Also, I believe XHTML 1.1 is currently undergoing 2nd Edition work, the 
contributors to which would probably like to know is all in vain, from your 
spec's perspective.

> The intent is to cover everything that the earlier specs did, in far more 
> detail. (Some of the features, most notably the presentational elements in 
> HTML4, aren't yet in the spec, but they will be in due course.)

That's fine, but covering everything isn't the same thing as rendering the 
previous specs obsolete. The HTML 4.x specs were fairly delicate with the way 
they made reference to HTML 3.2, and the XHTML specs have also avoided making 
any sweeping declarations of ascension. HTML 5 should tread just as lightly. 
The spec should not imply that in order to be a conforming HTML 4.x or XHTML 
1.x document processor, a UA must be an HTML 5 processor, which is what I feel 
would be the case if the older specs were truly replaced.
Received on Monday, 18 June 2007 22:06:53 UTC

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