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Summary: HTML WG October 2008 face-to-face meeting

From: Michael(tm) Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2008 02:49:02 +0900
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20081112174902.GA12623@toro.w3.mag.keio.ac.jp>

A summary of our October 2008 face-to-face meeting is now


I've done some further cleanup to the minutes as well, including
adding a number of subsection headings to them:


I've not proofread the summary document, so I'm sure it still has
a number of typos. If you find any, feel free to e-mail off-list
or ping me on IRC with corrections.

If you find any substantive errors or omissions in the summary, or
have questions about them, please post a message here with you
comments or questions.

A plain-text version of the minutes is included below.


Summary: HTML WG October 2008 face-to-face meeting

Table of Contents

     * 1. Spec-splitting and recruiting editors
     * 2. Joint meeting with W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG)
     * 3. Forms in HTML5
     * 4. MathML in text/html
     * 5. GRDDL, RDFa, @rel value registry, extensibility in
     * 6. Fragment identifiers for audio and video content
     * 7. Table headers
     * 8. HTML integration point for HTTP authentication
     * 9. Progress review/evaluation of stability of sections of
     * 10. ARIA implicit roles
     * 11. Status report on authoring guide to HTML5
     * 12. SVG in text/html (joint meeting with SVG WG)

1. Spec-splitting and recruiting editors

   See the minutes of the discussion about spec-splitting and
   recruiting editors.


   The group discussed some of the challenges involved in splitting out
   parts of the current HTML5 draft into separate specifications, and
   of finding and recruiting additional editors. Ian Hickson took an
   action to provide an evaluation of what parts of the current draft
   could potentially be split out and taken on by separate editors,
   along with an assessment about what level of effort would be needed
   to maintain each of those.

   A few days after the face-to-face meeting, Hixie followed up on that
   action item by posting HTML5 Specification - List of sections
   and corresponding work estimates, and later, with the comment “Upon
   further review I noticed some estimates that should probably be
   revised down”, followed with a list of some revisions to those
   initial estimates.


2. Joint meeting with W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG)

   See the minutes of the discussion with the TAG.


   The joint meeting between the HTML WG and TAG began with a
   discussion of the issue of modularization of the HTML5
   specification, in particular the idea of producing a separate
   specification that normatively defines just the HTML markup language

   Henry Thompson from the TAG led off with this comment:

     I care a lot about distinguishing about the definition of the
     language as a formal artifact and the discussion of the behavior
     of what browsers do with something that purports to be of that

   The discussion drifted a bit into areas concerning the stability of
   the HTML5 draft and the need to reference it normatively in other
   specifications, before returning to the subject of modularization,
   in particular the topic of producing a separate normative “markup
   language” specification. Noah Mendelssohn commented:

     My personal preference is that you do create such a spec. I don’t
     have a reason, just abstract intuition… Do you write one or more
     non-normative informative guides to help authors write stuff… I
     heard [here today] that in general they should encourage the
     creation of clean content… The more controversial option is should
     you write a normative and precise document that specifies only the
     clean language and its semantics.

     What I have in mind is a document would be a document that would
     include the syntax, as well as the normative definitions of what a
     table is, a paragraph, etc. Ideally, I would then NOT repeat those
     semantics in the “larger” user agent spec.; I would have the user
     agent spec refer to the language spec for that.

   It should also be noted that that prior to the meeting, some
   messages related to the separate-spec topic were posted to mailing
   lists: A Suggestions regarding creation of an "Authoring
   Specification" for HTML 5 message that Noah posted to the
   public-html-comments mailing list, as well as an Re: HTML5:
   clean and non-clean message Noah posted to the www-tag mailing list.
   From those messages, here are some selected excerpts:


     I think the specification for the authoring of correct HTML 5
     documents is of great importance. I understand that you are hoping
     that the need can be met in part by, eventually, using scripts to
     produce a stripped down version of the existing draft, leaving out
     much of the parsing and error recovery detail. Perhaps this will
     lead to a first class result, but I have some nervousness that the
     result might not be as effective as one might like.

     I think it would be a good idea to generate representative drafts
     sooner rather than later. If practical, this could be done by
     marking up the existing draft and running the full automated
     process. If that’s impractical soon, as I suspect may be the case,
     I would think that one or two members of the HTML working group
     could be tasked with manually producing a partial skeleton for
     evaluation, including at least some of the key sections such as
     8.1, and representative slices of some of the others. I think the
     resulting draft should be circulated for comment, and should be
     used to inform planning for how the final HTML 5 authoring draft
     will eventually be prepared.

     There’s a risk that, if all one does is to strip the existing
     spec. to produce the authoring spec, [some] key aspects of correct
     HTML 5 will be unduly hard to discover.

     I understand that to some extent there is already an intention to
     produce a separate “Authoring Specification” that is somewhat
     similar to what I propose, and I’m glad that’s being considered. I
     would prefer that such a specification be viewed not as an
     “authoring specification” but as “The HTML 5 Language
     Specification”, I.e. a document that’s of equal interest whether
     you are writing or reading an HTML 5 document. It would allow you
     to answer two questions: 1) is this a legal HTML 5 document? and
     2) if yes, what does this document mean? If automatic extraction
     of the pertinent bits from the current drafts produces a first
     class exposition of such language specification, that’s great, but
     I have some suspicion that a far cleaner, smaller, and easier to
     read specification could be written either by hand, or by careful
     manual adaptation of the current work.

     So, the net result of the proposed separation would be two

    1. The HTML 5 Language Specification (as proposed above)
    2. The HTML 5 Browser Specification

   Larry Masinter later made a related comment:

     I think rather than thinking about browsers and authors, since
     most content today is created by other software, you should use
     the terms producers and consumers.

   Following the main part of the discussion about the markup-language
   spec, the topic then turned to other types of potential
   modularization of the spec; for example, the possible value in
   taking the section of the HTML5 draft that defines what URLs are and
   how user-agents should handle them, and making it a separate

   The editor of the HTML5 draft, Ian Hickson, and a number of members
   of the HTML WG pointed out that the complexities among dependencies
   in the HTML5 draft make it a challenge to separate out certain parts
   of the spec.

   Another issue that came up during that discussion was in regard to
   parts of the HTML5 draft that conflict with other existing
   specifications. T.V. Raman commented:

     The meta-issue here isn’t about bits and bytes, but about whether
     this WG should be codifying existing violations of existing RFCs.

   The editor and members of the group pointed out that the parts of
   the HTML5 draft that conflict with with existing specifications are
   generally doing so because for those cases, UA/browser behavior
   actually conflicts with those existing specifications, and the HTML5
   specification, by design, attempts to precisely document “real
   world” interoperable UA/browser behavior — even for cases where
   there is general agreement that certain specific behaviors (such as
   content-type sniffing) in browsers may be less than ideal.

   The discussion closed with an action item being assigned to the
   HTML WG co-chair to lead an HTML WG response to TAG discussion and
   report back to the TAG at some later time, and with an action
   item being assigned to the W3C Director, Tim Berners-Lee, to write
   up a summary from the TAG perspective on at the discussion, and
   description of what kind of modularization of the HTML5 work that
   TAG thinks would recommend exploring further.


3. Forms in HTML5

   See the minutes of the discussion about forms.


   A portion of the HTML WG face-to-face meeting was structured as an
   “open house”, with members of other groups being invited to attend
   and bring their questions and concerns about HTML5 to the HTML WG.
   The first part of that portion of the meeting was a discussion of
   handling of forms in HTML5.

   The editor of the HTML5 draft, Ian Hickson, gave a status update on
   the integration of forms support in the HTML5 draft, reporting that
   he had completed integration of the previous Web Forms 2
   specification into the HTML5 draft, and had a large number of
   comments related to forms that he would be responding to by e-mail.

   Charlie Wiecha and Nick Van den Bleeken from the W3C Forms Working
   Group were in attendance for this part of the meeting. Charlie
   talked briefly about work on an “attribute-oriented forms
   notation” that could potentially be integrated with HTML5, and gave
   a location for a WebFormsA: Streamlined Expression of Data-Rich
   Web Applications document related to that work.


4. MathML in text/html

   See the minutes of the discussion about MathML.


   Neil Soiffer, representing the MathML working group, attended this
   part of the meeting in order to discuss an issue of the MathML
   plugin for IE requiring use of namespace prefixes in MathML content,
   and the potential (in)compatibility of the HTML5 parsing algorithm
   with such MathML content containing prefixes.

5. GRDDL, RDFa, @rel value registry, extensibility in text/html

   See the minutes of this portion of the meeting.


   Harry Halpin, the chair of the W3C GRDDL Working group, attended
   this portion of the meeting and led a discussion around the topic of
   what the HTML5 language provides for extensibility mechanisms in
   text/html (non-XML) content.

   During the discussion, it was pointed out that there is a need among
   Atom, XHTML2 and HTML5 for a shared mechanism for keeping an ongoing
   record of common/standard values of the rel attribute (because that
   set of values is not static — it grows as new uses/values for the
   rel attribute emerge). That lead to discussion about a potential
   need for a “rel registry” for those values.

   The discussion turned to RDFa and CURIEs, with Henri Sivonen

     I was vocal in that discussion against taking RDFa as-is. A lot of
     it revolves around the way RDFa uses XML namespace.

     The other objection was related to people who aren’t in the RDF
     community having to pay the “RDF tax”… I’d like a solution similar
     to GRDDL. People who want it can, but doesn’t cause problems for
     people that don’t.

   Harry followed up with a question, “Would HTML5 be willing to sort
   out some way to use short CURIE like values?” and Henri’s response
   was, “I suggest you use a registry, and concatenate the short values
   with a base URI.”

6. Fragment identifiers for audio and video content

   See the (short) minutes of the discussion about media fragments.


   Silvia Pfeiffer and Raphaël Troncy of the W3C Media Fragments
   Working Group gave a short presentation to inform the HTML WG about
   the work they are doing and how it potentially relates to HTML5
   media (audio and video) content.

7. Table headers

   See the minutes of the discussion about table headers.


   Joshue O Connor led a discussion about how the spec should best
   provide markup for header associations in complex data tables, and
   provided some relevant links:
     * Al Gilman "function and impacts (was: @scope and >@headers
       reform)" posting to public-html
     * ESW Wiki: headers attribute Issue
     * HTML WG bugzilla issue #5822: The headers attribute should
       be able to reference a td
     * Gez’s complex table example
     * another table example from Anne van Kesteren
     * Smart span algorithm for table cells (James Graham)


   Al Gilman gave a summary of the issues and current state of the
   ongoing dialog around them; there was then some discussion about
   proposed solutions, followed by discussion about the timeline for
   trying to get a resolution on the issues. Al concluded by noting
   “What we want to do in face time, we’ve done”.

8. HTML integration point for HTTP authentication

   See the minutes of the discussion about an HTML integration
   point for HTTP authentication.


   Julian Reschke led a discussion about issues with HTTP
   authentication and specifically about limitations in the user
   interface that browsers provide for it.

   Some relevant links:
     * Hixie’s list of messages related to HTTP authentication that
       are still planning to (re)read and evaluate and eventually
       respond to
     * HTML WG tracker issue 13: Handling HTTP status 401 responses
       / User Agent Authentication Forms
     * WHATWG mailing-list thread (initiated by Aaron Swartz) on
       fixing the authentication problem


   Julian gave a summary of the issue, and discussion followed about
   the general brokenness of HTTP authentication and whether we really
   want to be doing anything to try to help it succeed, which led to
   discussion about OAuth and OpenID and SAML.

   Harry Halpin commented: “this is really important, someone should
   eventually sort this whole identity thing out” and there was general
   agreement about that, but now about where the sorting out should
   actually get done; Jonas Sicking commented: “I think HTML5 should be
   completely silent on this. I think that should be a separate work
   item. Is it a W3C matter?” and Julian’s response to that was, “IETF
   is waiting for W3C; it’s a user agent issue.”

   Thomas Roessler (W3C Security Activity Lead) stepped in near the end
   of the discussion to offer some insights around the security issues
   and security UI issues.

9. Progress review/evaluation of stability of sections of HTML5

   See the minutes for both the morning and afternoon portions
   of this discussion.


   The group spent roughly half of day two of the face-to-face meeting
   reading through the spec together and updating its accompanying
   marginal annotations to reflect the current status of each section
   of the spec in terms of stability and implementation support.

   The results are reflected in the marginal annotations in the
   WHATWG copy of the spec (the W3C copy does not support the
   annotations mechanism).


10. ARIA implicit roles

   See the minutes of the discussion about ARIA implicit roles.


   Ian Hickson Ben Millard, Anne van Kesteren, Cynthia Shelly, Michael
   Cooper, Henri Sivonen, and Marcos Caceres met for a separate
   “breakout session” to discuss ARIA implicit roles.

   Anne suggested that there was a need to focus on two things:
   “figuring out where holes with current HTML to MSAA mapping are in
   existing implementations and Figuring out what the mapping should be
   going forward and for new HTML elements”, and there was discussion
   about the need to document [existing | proposed] mapping between
   HTML features, ARIA features, MSAA, UIA, IA2, ATK, and AX.

   The ARIA User Agent Implementors Guide was noted as being a good
   starting point for creating further mappings.


   As a forum for further discussion, the attendees agreed to use the
   wai-xtech@w3.org mailing list, with message subjects flagged with
   the prefix [Role].

11. Status report on authoring guide to HTML5

   See the minutes of the discussion about the authoring guide.


   Lachlan Hunt gave a report on the Editor’s Draft of a non-normative
   Web Developer’s Guide to HTML 5 that he’s been working on. There
   was some discussion about what level of background knowledge the
   current introduction to the document expected from readers. Karl
   Dubost said the after the end of November, he would be able to spend
   time working collaboratively on editing parts of the document.


12. SVG in text/html (joint meeting with SVG WG)

   See the minutes of the discussion about SVG in text/html.


   Henri Sivonen commented on his experiences in evaluating the SVG WG
   proposal for SVG and text/html and the “commented out” section on
   SVG in text/html in the HTML5 draft.

     I‘ve implemented the proposal that was commented out. I estimated
     what work it would take to implement it in Gecko and in Java SE,
     and my assessment is that it’s much easier in both cases to
     implement the commented-out proposal. I sent comments about why
     the SVG WG is not implementable. I fundamentally disagree with
     having an XML parser inside the HTML parser.

   Chris Lilley expressed misgivings about any implementor based on
   implementing just one of the two proposals.

   Charles McCathieNevile responded by giving Opera’s perspective on
   the proposals.

     In our assessment, in practical terms, the two proposals will work
     [equally well] -- after looking at the costs, based on a “desk
     check”, I think it is a goal that where it is feasible, you should
     be able to take SVG content out of text/html content, and stick it
     into, e.g., an editor. We don’t want to break the use case of
     cut-and-paste in that scenario

   Erik Dahlström from Opera added:

     To me it’s not a goal to allow something to be very different from
     the syntax we have now; it’s important to stay as close as
     possible to what is out there already.

   Henri Sivonen responded:

     I agree about the importance of the copy-and-paste from browser
     into editor, but following the line of thought, it leads to
     breaking the fundamental permissive nature of text/html (the
     “host” format); you can get around this without making fundamental
     changes to HTML parsing

   There followed some discussion about browsers being able to help
   address the copy/paste problem by providing mechanisms to take any
   given text/html document (including those containing SVG content)
   and output a well-formed XML serialized representation of it.

   That discussion was followed by one about the need to first
   (re)focus on what problem the two groups both wanted to solve, and
   what the goals of the solution should be.

   Both groups agreed about the goal that the solution should not stop
   people from putting in well-formed SVG content into text/html. There
   was also agreement about that goal that “markup should be as easy to
   edit by hand as regular HTML, modulo complications due to the
   vocabulary itself”.

   The groups did not reach agreement about the goal of “don’t break
   legacy pages”. Chris Lilley suggested that goal should be refined to
   state, “SVG pages which currently work — which produce some useful
   output — should continue working.”

   The discussion then turned to the issue of how to deal with certain
   cases of use of namespaces in SVG content. Jonas Sicking offered the
   following comment and questions:

     Seems like the issue of wrong namespaces is the only one we don’t
     have agreement on. Do we want it to be possible to use an
     off-the-shelf XML parser? Are we OK to restricting ourselves to
     non-off-the-shelf XML parsers? If I as an implementor am not OK
     with writing my own XML parser, then that definitely excludes some

   The final item discussed was the issue of “whether to use
   case-sensitive or case-insensitive tag and attribute names at the
   syntax level should be driven from implementation performance
   choices, not conformance.” Henri Sivonen stated the performance
   concerns were a very serious issue.

   To summarize the perspective from the view of the members of the SVG
   WG who attended: While stating that they recognized the need for
   browsers to do error correction of Web content — they reiterated
   that their position is that SVG must maintain its XML syntax, and in
   particular that specifications should mandate that conforming
   authoring tools create SVG as well-formed XML, since other output
   might create unpredictable behavior. The SVG WG is not opposed to
   error correction similar to that for HTML5 (including unquoted
   attribute values and case-insensitivity), but unlike HTML5, wants to
   emphasize that this is error-correction, and not canonically correct

   The outcome of the discussion seemed to be indicate that while
   members of the SVG WG still did not agree that the commented-out
   section on SVG in text/html in the HTML5 draft was the right
   solution, there was some acknowledgment that it might eventually
   help lead to the right solution. Specifically, the commented-out
   proposal excludes certain SVG elements (“metadata” and “font”),
   while the SVG WG believes that there should be no implicit
   white-list of elements within HTML5, and that the list of elements,
   attributes, and attribute values should be referenced directly from
   the SVG family of specifications, and the SVG WG believes the final
   solution should allow for this.

   In summary, both groups expressed agreement with the overall goal of
   getting SVG to work in text/html, and have a strong commitment
   making it happen, and plan to continue to work out the details for a
   solution along with implementors.

Michael(tm) Smith
Received on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 17:49:48 GMT

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