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Looking for more editors

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 09:39:09 +0000 (UTC)
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0809010855580.7044@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Sun, 31 Aug 2008, Julian Reschke wrote:
> 
> Anyway, if each feedback loop takes two years we have a serious problem 
> that we need to fix, for instance by installing more editors [...]

I've been asking for people to volunteer to actually take parts of HTML5 
and edit them for years now. The problem is that very few people are 
actually willing to invest the (large) amount of time and effort required. 
There are a number of areas where we've actually tried finding editors:

* The Window object. I totally removed all the text for this from HTML5, 
the WebAPI group started a new spec, we got an editor for the spec, and 
the spec languished. I needed the Window object to be specced out because 
HTML5 features left and right depend on it, but the spec just bit-rotted. 
I ended up being forced to remerge everything back into HTML5 just so that 
I could fix the issues people were raising. Both removing the features and 
readding them were a giant amount of work, and thus the net result was a 
delay of several weeks in the spec's development.

* XMLHttpRequest. This has been a success story because we have a strong 
editor behind the spec. XHR started in HTML5, and I did a lot of the 
initial work, but eventually Anne volunteered to work on it and I moved 
all the XHR feedback over to him.

* The Selectors API. Not technically something that was ever in HTML5, but 
people kept suggesting it and wanting to implement it, so I eventually put 
a placeholder in place and it was only because Anne volunteered that we 
were able to avoid speccing it in HTML5 (or getting proprietary 
extensions, which is the alternative). Lachlan is now working on this 
spec.

* The Bindings for DOM requirements. Not technically something that is in 
HTML5, but it would have been had it not been for heycam volunteering to 
edit the spec to define this. heycam is busy though, and development of 
this spec has been slow at times.

* The new Alternative Stylesheet API (implemented in Moz and Safari). The 
API was moved to the CSSOM spec, which has, again, basically died, despite 
theoretically having an editor. This feature isn't critical to the rest of 
the spec, so it's not a huge deal that it has died, but it _does_ mean 
that we can't fix the interoperability problems between Mozilla and 
Safari. I may end up reintegrating this to get the interop gain (which is 
the whole point of having specs).

* setTimeout(). I moved the text for that section to a separate section of 
HTML5 labelled "things to be removed" or some such. Nobody has done 
anything that would take that text and spec it in another document, even 
though this would be a very small amount of work relative to everything 
else. I may end up having to reintegrate this into the rest of the spec, 
especially now that we have the event loop / task queue mechanism defined.

* The WHATWG wiki has a "companion specifications" page that lists 
features that are currently dead, due to lack of editors. All of those 
features need an editor desperately; they are getting no progress at all 
right now.

I've been looking for editors myself for years, though with very minimal 
results -- Lachlan, Anne, and heycam have begun editing some specs, but 
they are not able to work on this full time, which is what we really need.

Editing a spec to the level of quality of HTML5 requires:

- experience writing Web pages and Web applications.

- experience writing test suites for browsers.

- experience with prioritisation of bug fixing for browser development.

- the ability to write tools to perform studies of Web content.

- an understanding of how the Web is supposed to work (standards) and how 
it actually works (browser bugs, common authoring mistakes).

- contacts within the industry, especially in browser vendors, who trust 
you and are willing to work with you (e.g. letting you know about 
standards-related security problems before they fix them, working with you 
to find good solutions; letting you know their needs based on their future 
products even before they announce them; etc).

- the ability to actually write technical specifications that don't leave 
anything undefined.

- the ability to take many view points and make a decision based on them.

- the ability to defend a decision and resist flip-flopping.

- the ability to respond to feedback in detail in a manner that is 
comprehensible and clear.

- the willingness to seek out more feedback and actively recruit 
participants and opinions.

- a good technical grounding and understanding of fundamental computer and 
programming concepts.

- a pragmatic attitude that is willing to put the needs of the users, 
authors, and implementors (in that order) far ahead of technical purity.

If anyone actually has the skills, time, and willingness to do a serious 
job of editing parts of HTML5 (or any of the other Web specs that 
desperately need editors): please let me know so that I can get you set 
up. There are a number of small things you can start with that are 
important but wouldn't be too much work; they would help you determine 
whether you are able to commit to a larger effort.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Monday, 1 September 2008 09:39:13 GMT

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