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Re: ready to publish "HTML5 differences from HTML4"?

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 14:02:42 -0500
Message-Id: <6759E318-07D1-4B9D-A674-C11242E046E5@robburns.com>
Cc: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>

On Jun 23, 2007, at 1:31 PM, Dan Connolly wrote:

> The differences document is nice and short; it has gotten
> a generally positive reaction.

I think the positive reaction to the document is due to the fact that  
we needed such a document to move the discussion along within the WG.  
I don't think we're even close to a public release of that or any  
document (maybe we'll be ready next month or August).

> I suggest this WG should publish it in its present form.
> http://dev.w3.org/cvsweb/~checkout~/html5/html4-differences/ 
> Overview.html
> $Revision: 1.22 $ of $Date: 2007/06/23 15:22:05 $

I think to release that document now would be a big debacle. It would  
create similar misunderstandings to those faced by XHTML2 when  
everyone thought they couldn't have <img> elements in their documents  
anymore (like HTML was going to become text only). Such  
misconceptions will dominate the discourse about HTML5 and the public  
will not recognize all of the positive contributions HTML5 makes.

Before we can publish this or the spec, we should wait for the  
detailed review to come in over the next few weeks. On the HTML4 /  
HTML5 differences document, we need to:

1)  settle the issues already raised on the assistive technologies  
features that are missing in HTML5. From the discussions that have  
occurred so far, I would say the overwhelming consensus is that these  
features should NOT be dropped in HTML5. If we decide to publish the  
differences document without settling these AT issues, we need to (at  
the very least) explain what alternative mechanisms authors will use  
in HTML5 for the features from HTML4 that HTML5 no longer supports

2) provide detailed explanations for the semantic changes in elements  
such as <ht>, <i>, <b>, <strong>, and <small>. In my view, the change  
in semantics means we do not maintain the html namespace. After all,  
a namespace is a promise that the names used in the space will always  
mean the same thing. New names may be added. Other names may be  
deprecated. But the names, once introduced, will always have the same  

3)  Further explanation off the differences in the <menu> element.

4) for all of the dropped attributes, we need to immediately explain  
what the alternatives authors will use (e.g., accesskey, td@scope).

5) the 'style' attribute issue just raised will cause great concern  
in the population we release this to. Heavy-handed moves like that  
will create a bad name for HTML5 before we can even get some  
consensus amongst ourselves.

In summary, I don't think we should rush the public release on this  
or any of the deliverables. It will only hurt the adoption of HTML5.  
I would imagine we might be ready for an initial release by the end  
of July or early August. However, we need to address the many issues  
raised in the WG: particularly those that relate to backwards  
compatibility. I don't think it will surprise anyone to see  
presentational attributes and elements dropped in HTML5.. It will  
surprise many people to see semantic attributes and elements dropped.  
This does not at all meet the goals of backwards compatibility. We  
need to either step up to that goal or carefully explain why semantic  
facilities are being dropped (ie.e., backwards compatibility is not  
being maintained in these areas). in HTML5. Keep in mind the  
population will not view "seldom used" as a valid explanation. These  
features were added to HTML with the understanding that they would be  
seldom used. They were put their for those that needed their use. In  
other words we do not have to cater the language to the least common  

Take care,

> Before I put the question formally, I'd like to have a few
> WG members read the whole thing and tell us whether they
> concur with my suggestion.
> In the "What should we publish first?" survey, the following
> people expressed interest in publishing a differences document...
> Would you please take a look and let us know what you think?
> Danny Liang
> Robert Burns
> Ben Boyle
> Chris Veenboer
> Murray Maloney
> Henrik Dvergsdal
> Charles McCathieNevile
> Anne, feel free to incorporate smallish suggestions as they
> arise, keeping a reasonably careful change log. If this thread
> yields large changes that you think are worth making, we'll probably
> need to slow down a bit.
> Karl, I'd like you to give some thought to the Status section
> and send me/us a draft.
> -- 
> Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Sunday, 24 June 2007 19:02:59 UTC

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