W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > November 2008

Re: Should we Publish a Language Specification?

From: Dean Edridge <dean@dean.org.nz>
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2008 02:32:35 +1300
To: "Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd)" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Cc: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, Ben Millard <cerbera@projectcerbera.com>
Message-id: <49241573.8080003@dean.org.nz>

Ben Millard wrote:
>> Would it be worth making a poll about whether to publish a normative 
>> language specification as a W3C Working Draft?

I don't think that would be a good idea.

> Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) wrote:
>> Well, if one may vote in favour of a motion
>> to vote, I for one am definitely in favour.

I am opposed to having such a vote, not just for this issue, but for any 
decisions that need to be made regarding the future of the web. The 
future of the Open Web platform should not be decided by "perceived 
popularity". Just because the majority of people may vote for a certain 
option doesn't mean that that is the right way to go. Decision making my 
popularity does not take in to account the fact that many people are, 
among other things, sometimes misinformed, not that interested in the 
issue or just simply likely to go with the flow and vote the same way as 
everyone else. Such decisions, if needed to be made, should be made 
through open email discussions within the group so everyone can have 
their opportunity to put their arguments forward. It just so happens 
that over the past few days we have been having such discussions and by 
my account of things there's been considerably strong arguments put 
forward by experienced people indicating that having duplicate spec's 
would not be a good idea and would lead to conflicts and discrepancies 
between the two documents.

>> I think Mike has done a great job in producing
>> a document which could, as he puts it, "serve
>> as a normative definition of the syntax and
>> structure and semantics of HTML [5]", and I
>> would like to see a formal poll on whether we
>> should adopt it for publication.

The person that originally requested that we create such a document was 
not familiar with HTML5 and did not know that the HTML WG already had an 
authoring guide that Lachlan Hunt, with the input of others, had spent 
many hours putting together. This authoring guide, aka: "The web 
developers guide to HTML5"  is aimed at describing the markup language 
and educating authors on how to create clean, conforming HTML5 
documents, I don't see any need for another spec that is very similar to 

Lachy's very passionate about his web standards, especially HTML5, he 
knows more about HTML5 than almost anyone else which is why he's the 
right guy to write the authoring guide. I don't think it's fair on him 
to have a competing document, especially when there doesn't seem to be 
any clear reason why a second document would be needed.

If we had another authoring spec it would mean that not only would we 
have two competing "user guides", we would also have two competing HTML5 
specs, as such a "markup language" specification would really just be a 
simplified version of part of the main spec. This creates a lot of 
problems with keeping the specs in sync. If there was a need for such a 
spec, and by most accounts there's not, I believe that Ian Hickson would 
need to edit it to ensure that it keeps in sync with the main spec.

Dean Edridge
Received on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 13:33:11 UTC

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