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Re: Splitting up the spec

From: Asbjørn Ulsberg <list@asbjorn.ulsberg.no>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2008 23:12:28 +0100
To: "Boris Zbarsky" <bzbarsky@mit.edu>, "Jim Jewett" <jimjjewett@gmail.com>
Cc: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.uk49a2elflu5h5@quark-mac-pro.local>

On Mon, 24 Nov 2008 22:38:43 +0100, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu> wrote:

> That approach makes it impossible to actually use the "markup spec" for  
> even writing an authoring tool.  What exactly is the point of this  
> "markup spec", again?

I believe there is a very valid use-case for an as pure "markup spec" as possible, and that is: Authors. Being able to reference the markup elements and attributes without the interference of DOM and scripting definitions is a huge plus-side of the HTML4 specification. The HTML5 specification currently lacks that feature.

While HTML5 successfully tries to specify a heck of a lot more than HTML4 in terms of how HTML actually works, I have to agree with Jim and Toby in that the HTML5 specification would be better if it was split into several parts, just like the next version of the HTTP specification is (7 parts in total, I believe).

> Informative circular references are even worse than normative ones,  
> since they're more likely to become stale...

True, and I agree that circular references should be kept at an absolute minimum or best of all; avoided completetly. There is a way to avoid them: Write the specifications in layers or levels, where the reference and dependencies only one way (up or down, depending on your perspective).

If we could think of "HTML5: Markup and Document Object Model" as "level 1" in this stack of specifications, "level 2" could be "HTML5: Processing", "level 3" could be "HTML5: Scripting", "level 4" could be "HTML5: Interfaces and plugins", etc. Level 4 would reference level 3 which would reference level 2 which would reference level 1, but never the other way around.

Alternatively, if some of the higher level specifications are orthogonal, they can both reference the same lower-level specification.

I'd like to see level 1 be as bird's eye view and HTML author-friendly as possible, without heavy scripting references or intricate parsing algorithms. While these are both extremely important aspects of HTML, they are more often than not so for an HTML author.

Asbjørn Ulsberg         -=|=-          asbjorn@ulsberg.no
«He's a loathsome offensive brute, yet I can't look away»
Received on Monday, 24 November 2008 22:20:07 UTC

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