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Who is the Intended Audience of the Markup Spec Proposal?

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 19:39:00 +0100
Message-ID: <49245D44.8010509@lachy.id.au>
To: public-html <public-html@w3.org>

Hi,
   Regarding the draft of the Markup Spec [1], it is unclear to me who 
the intended audience of the document is.  This is a question I raised 
in the in the F2F in France, regarding requests for a similar document, 
but failed to get an answer.

While it is clear that the scope is limited to markup producers, there 
are still a wide variety of such producers, each with many overlapping 
and distinct needs.  In order to review the proposal the proper context, 
it is necessary to clearly define who the intended audience is so that 
it can be evaluated in regards to whether or not it adequately addresses 
the needs of that audience.

The set of markup producers include authors of various skill levels, 
authoring tool vendors (like Dreamweaver), tutorial writers, CMS 
vendors, a wide range of other tool vendors who's products provide some 
form of automatically generated HTML output.

Each of those groups requires different kinds of information from 
different sections of the spec, depending on their specific needs and 
abilities.  For instance, an author who's just writing a blog needs the 
syntax, semantics and content models, but needs it in a way that is very 
reader friendly.  Whereas an authoring tool vendor would be able to 
handle a more formal grammar to explain the conforming syntax, but also 
very likely needs the parsing and possibly rendering requirements, in 
the case of WYSIWYG editors.

Based on the way the draft is written, it's not clear that the draft 
adequately addresses the needs any particular group, nor provides all 
the required information.

It also purports to be a normative document, which indicates that it's 
supposed to be more than just an informative syntax guide.  This is a 
problem because it duplicates and restructures a lot of information from 
the spec itself, but not always by copying it verbatim.  Even if it did 
copy everything verbatim and elimited the possibility of conflict, I 
don't understand why any of it needs to be normatively defined twice.

For instance, section 3 from the markup spec duplicates section 8.1 from 
HTML5; section 4 from the markup spec duplicates sections 4 duplicates 
much of section 4 from HTML5; section 5 duplicates some of section 3.4; 
section 6 duplicates some of section 3.3.3; section 6.5 lists repetition 
template attributes that were dropped from the spec; and appendix A 
duplicates section 8.6.

Since both would be normative, what would happen in the event of a 
conflict?  Although, ideally, there shouldn't be any by the the time 
they're finalised, it's still possible.  In fact, it's happened in one 
obvious case already.  c.f. The repetition template attributes mentioned 
above.

There is also some overlap with the information provided in authoring 
guide, such as providing the element content models, describing the 
syntax, etc.  However, unlike the authoring guide, it's written in what 
appears to be some type of formal grammar, which isn't really reader 
friendly, and seems less suitable for authors than the way the spec 
itself is written.

Also note that the formal grammar used in the draft doesn't actually 
seem to be defined anywhere and seems to be some kind of ad hoc syntax 
partially inspired by that used in DTDs, with some weird anomalies with 
the way attributes are seemingly included within the element's content 
model.

[1] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/markup-spec/

-- 
Lachlan Hunt - Opera Software
http://lachy.id.au/
http://www.opera.com/
Received on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 18:39:43 GMT

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