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Fundamental assumptions (Was: SVGWG SVG-in-HTML proposal)

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 11:20:38 +0000 (UTC)
To: "Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd)" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0807291104060.30692@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Tue, 29 Jul 2008, Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) wrote:
> Ian Hickson wrote:
> 
> > However, the assumptions that namespace prefixes are bad and that 
> > handling errors in a fatal manner is bad are both assumptions that we 
> > have taken as fundamental in the HTML5 work since 2003, [...]
> 
> "We" ?  This WG did not exist in 2003.  I think you must be referring to 
> another group.

"We" as in the people working on HTML5, which in 2003 was a small group 
indeed (these fundamental design decisions even predate the WHATWG's 
public announcement). The W3C got to the party many years after these 
fundamental design decisions were settled. (Amusing historical anecdote: 
many of these design decisions stem from discussions around a whitepaper 
that was written to try to convince the W3C to take on the HTML5 work in 
early 2004 at the Web Applications workshop, but the W3C at the time 
rejected the proposal, resulting in the WHATWG's announcement. [1])

[1] http://www.w3.org/2004/04/webapps-cdf-ws/papers/opera.html


> > If evidence to turn these assumptions around were indeed to come up, 
> > then this would have a massive effect on the HTML5 spec, and would 
> > probably put us back at least 6 months so that we could reengineer the 
> > spec to be designed with the new principles in mind.
> 
> Which would be no bad thing.  Far better to delay by six months than to 
> rush to release something that is fundamentally flawed.

I think one would be hard pressed to call the HTML5 timetable "rushed". 
>From start to finish the current timetable calls for a 19 year plan, which 
is longer than the entire lifetime of the Web so far (2003-2022 [2]).

If evidence were to turn up that showed these assumptions to be flawed, 
then we should indeed change the spec. In the text you quote above, I'm 
just pointing out that this would take at least 6 months.

[2] http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/TIMETABLE


> > In cases where there is no consensus, we need to pick a choice and go 
> > with it,
> 
> How does can you reconcile this statement with the fact that this WG is 
> a pat of the W3C, one of whose core values is the importance of 
> consensus [1] ?

I have many times explained that I think consensus is overrated and that 
the W3C's decision policy is outdated and should be rethought. For 
example, see the end of:

   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0665.html

...or the second paragraph I wrote in:

   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Feb/0156.html

Indeed I was very clear about this before being appointed as editor:

   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0469.html
   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007May/0590.html

The HTML5 work isn't using the traditional W3C approach, and will never 
use a consensus approach so long as I am editor. Consensus simply isn't a 
good way to get technically solid specifications, and is in any case 
basically impossible to achieve in a group with hundreds of participants 
such as this one.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Tuesday, 29 July 2008 11:21:16 GMT

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