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Re: Versioning re-visited (was : mixed signals on "Writing HTML documents", tutorial, etc.)

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 13:55:14 +0300
Message-Id: <24FE272D-1881-48F2-BEBC-9F0C6B780258@iki.fi>
Cc: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Philip & Le Khanh <Philip-and-LeKhanh@Royal-Tunbridge-Wells.Org>, HTML Working Group <public-html@w3.org>
To: "Philip Taylor (Webmaster)" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>

On Jun 21, 2007, at 18:57, Philip Taylor (Webmaster) wrote:

> I have been
> creating web pages ever since HTML 2.0 (many on this list
> will have been creating them for far longer), and every
> page that I have validated in the past will validate today,
> because the specification against which it is written is
> enshrined in its DOCTYPE directive.
> The goalposts are fixed, for perpetuity.  A valid document
> will remain valid, an invalid document will remain invalid,
> and a validator will never give different answers concerning
> a particular instantiation of a document.

You make it seem like validity in and of itself was more important to  
you than how the document fares in its practical environment today.

To me, it makes sense to check the document one is currently  
authoring against the current conformance criteria. However, people  
advocating for explicit version haven't explained why they want to  
take old documents and see if they still validate against the then- 
current version of HTML. Old documents are water long since under the  
bridge. And UAs need to cope whether or not the old documents are  
conforming to any conformance criteria.

If you are yourself the author and you have the intent of updating  
the document, you are pretty much in the same situation as you'd be  
if you were writing a new document from scratch: You should observe  
the current conformance criteria. If you are the author but you have  
no intent of updating the document anyway, why would you bother  
validating? If you are not the author, why do you care whether  
someone else's document conformed to then-current conformance  
criteria when it was written?

As for changes in the theoretical HTML6, there are three cases:
1) The future HTML6 WG goes nuts and makes an incompatible language.
2) HTML6 adds a feature using the parts of the syntax that were non- 
conforming in HTML5.
3) HTML6 deprecates or obsoletes a feature.

Let's look at each one:

1: Either the future HTML6 WG introduces a version discriminator or  
the market ignores the output of the future HTML6 WG.

2: A document authored according to the HTML5 rules stays conforming.  
No harm done.

3: If the future HTML6 WG deprecates or obsoletes something that we  
got wrong, they'd better have a pretty good reason to. (Otherwise,  
they will have gone nuts.) If something is so bad that it deserves to  
get obsoleted or deprecated, shouldn't conformance checkers notify  
authors instead of silently keeping the goal posts fixed for perpetuity?

Henri Sivonen
Received on Monday, 25 June 2007 10:55:32 UTC

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