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Re: ACTION-95, ISSUE-65: Plan to publish a new WD of HTML-5

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 14:43:08 -0800
Cc: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <729AC62A-BE10-4ACD-9987-9FD3B092FBAF@apple.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>


On Jan 27, 2009, at 12:09 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:

>
> Larry Masinter wrote:
>> Voicing a concern:
>> An updated working drafts for HTML 5 should meet
>> the same criteria of agreement and consensus as are
>> asked of  "HTML 5: The Markup Language".
>
> Agreed.

I kind of agree and kind of disagree. The HTML5 spec itself is already  
on the standards track, and has already published an FPWD. Thus  
publishing another WD is not as big a deal, because we've already  
placed the document on the standards track, and republishing it at the  
same maturity level doesn't really have W3C process effect. The only  
reason we need to publish a Working Draft of any kind at all is to  
satisfy the W3C heartbeat requirement.

On the other hand, I do think that publishing the First Public Working  
Draft of the markup-authoring-only spec should meet the same criteria  
as the FPWD of HTML5 did. In that case, we had a considerable period  
of discussion, followed by a formal vote of the Working Group via Web  
survey. Even before that, we had a formal vote of the Working Group to  
adopt what was then "Web Apps 1.0" as the initial review draft of  
HTML5. I think it would be appropriate to follow those same steps now  
as we did then.

>> I would object to publishing a new WD of HTML-5
>> without also publishing HTML5: The Markup Language.
>
> The underlying issue is that the W3C processes don't require  
> consensus, but do require a decision.  As near as I can tell, the  
> mechanism for arriving at a decision is left up to each workgroup.

The HTML WG has long discussed decision process, and indeed our  
charter has some things to say about it since it was a controversial  
issue at the time of the group's creation <http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter.html 
 >:

   "As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group  
will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. We expect that  
typically, an editor makes an initial proposal, which is refined in  
discussion with Working Group members and other reviewers, and  
consensus emerges with little formal decision-making. However, if a  
decision is necessary for timely progress, but after due consideration  
of different opinions, consensus is not achieved, the Chair should put  
a question (allowing for remote, asynchronous participation using, for  
example, email and/or web-based survey techniques) and record a  
decision and any objections, and consider the matter resolved, at  
least until new information becomes available."

We haven't called a formal vote many times in the past, but the FPWD  
of HTML5 was one of those times, since we did not have consensus, but  
a timely decision was necessary.

I also think your analogy to competing software projects and Cathedral  
vs. Bazaar methodologies is not entirely apt. Competition is certainly  
beneficial for software; we can certainly see in the browser market  
that robust competition leads to faster progress. But I don't think  
the same applies to standards. Standards are in effect an agreement  
remove some technical issues from the domain of competition, in order  
to improve interoperability and therefore benefit everyone through  
network effects and economoies of scale. Competing standards do not  
fulfill this purpose. It is true that in fact often standards fall  
short of meeting this purpose; we've probably all heard that "the  
great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from".  
But I do not think we should be exacerbating the situation.

>
> I've proposed one such process in a response to another email:
>
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jan/0414.html

I don't think "at least three people agree" is a good decision process  
for FPWD. Publishing a First Public Working Draft places a document on  
the Recommendation track, and also triggers patent review. Thus, for  
the HTML5 spec itself we took this decision very seriously and took a  
Working Group vote. We even took a formal vote for documents clearly  
meant to be strictly informative, such as the Design Principles  
document and the Differences from HTML4 document.

I do think that something lightweight would be acceptable for  
republishing a document that has already seen FPWD. But for Last Call  
or the like, I would once again press for a formal vote of the group.  
In my opinion, W3C Process state transitions are considerably more  
important than republication at the same maturity level. I would also  
find it acceptable for the group to publish anything reasonable as an  
Editor's Draft, since that has no W3C Process implications.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Tuesday, 27 January 2009 22:43:49 UTC

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