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Re: Exploring new vocabularies for HTML

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 13:14:45 -0400
Message-ID: <47E93305.1060705@us.ibm.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: whatwg@whatwg.org, public-html@w3.org

Ian Hickson wrote:
> I've read all 367 e-mails that were sent to the WHATWG, the HTMLWG, and to 
> other forums on the topic of MathML, SVG, namespaces, etc, in HTML, 
> spanning threads from 2006 to 2008. [1]
> 
> I've tried to summarise the problems (use cases) that people want solved, 
> along with what they consider most important when faced with those 
> problems [2]:
> 
>   1. Putting an equation in a Web page.
>      Priorities:
>       * Maintainability
>       * Searchability
>       * Accessibility
>       * Typographically-sound printing
>       * Ease of authoring (are authors willing to learn new formats?)
>       * Ease of import from existing documents
>       * Ease of implementation (are UAs willing to implement new formats?)
>       * Resistance to errors (e.g. not brittle in the face of syntax errors)
> 
>   2. Migrating from LaTeX to HTML.
>      Priorities:
>       * Fidelity
> 
>   3. Writing a document by hand, with inline diagrams imported from a 
>      graphics package.
>      Priorities:
>       * Compatibility with existing graphics packages
>       * Resistance to errors (e.g. not brittle in the face of syntax errors)
>       * Scriptable (retained-mode, with DOM support, without requiring 
>         cross-frame scripting)
>       * Round-tripping (the ability to take image fragments from a Web page 
>         and edit them)
> 
>   4. Writing documents that include diagrams that include
>      typographically-correct mathematics.
> 
> Philip also wrote a detailed story, which touches on several of the points 
> above, of what we want to enable. In addition to the points above, his 
> requirements include a solution for ID clashes in multiple-document 
> transclution, and a solution for embedding custom non-visible data in an 
> HTML document for scripting purposes. [3]
> 
> 
> Now, please, if I've missed something that you want to do, please let me 
> know as soon as possible. I intend to start working on solutions to these 
> problems tomorrow, and things that aren't on the list of problems will 
> likely not be considered as constraints.
> 
> In particular, people seemed to jump to solutions that the above problems 
> don't imply. For example, nowhere in the above list of problems do 
> namespaces appear anywhere, yet the majority of the discussion revolved 
> around namespace issues. If this is because I've missed a problem that in 
> fact requires those solutions, please tell me as soon as possible.

0.  The web is heterogeneous.  Requirements change.  No working group
     has access to infinite expertise.

> I cannot solve problems I don't know exist!

Yes, you can.  It just takes longer.  :-P

Meanwhile, we have access to three user agents that support DOM trees 
with foreign elements, mostly compatibly.  We recently got access to a 
fourth, albeit one that is somewhat less compatible.  We have access to 
concrete syntaxes and behaviors already established as standards.  Those 
standards were designed to allow foreign markup to nest arbitrarily.  We 
have access to a substantial number of existing documents that conform 
to those standards.  We have access to tools that can produce more.

- Sam Ruby
Received on Tuesday, 25 March 2008 13:15:36 UTC

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