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

From: Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 19:46:58 +0000
Message-ID: <4980B632.6090103@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>



Jonas Sicking wrote:

 >> Is the simple answer to this question not just
 >> "because if it is non-normative, it is of no use" ?
 >
 > So would you say that the documents Dan and Lachlan have produced is
 > of no use since they are informative?

No, to do so would be insulting.  Rather I would say
that they are of some use, and that they may well
be of interest to many seeking to exploit HTML 5,
but that any informative document can only augment,
rather than replace, a normative document that addresses
the same topic (cf. "An Informal Introduction to Algol 68",
v. "The Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language Algol 68").
Titles from memory, so don't take me up on typos.

 > Really? Does the same thing apply for other languages that you author
 > content for? If you were to write a C program, would you go to the
 > ANSI C99 spec? Or would you pick up a book or read a web tutorial.

I don't program in C; explaining why would take us
into religious wars, so let's just leave it at that.

 > When you write a perl program, do you read the Pod documentation, or
 > do you go read the perl source code (which as far as I can tell is the
 > only thing resembling a spec for Perl5-)

I use "Programming in Perl".  For TeX, of which I write far
more, I use "The TeXBook", "TeX the Program", Eijkhout's
"TeX by Topic", and "Tex in Practice - 4 Volumes":
Stephan v. Bechtolsheim.  For Pascal, the "User Manual
and Report".  And so on.  In other words, my preference
is for the most definitive (and, where possible, normative)
reference on any language in which I program.  W3C specifications
for HTML 4.01 and CSS, backed up by (but not replaced by)
"Raggett on HTML 4", Bert Bos & Hakon Wium Lie on CSS,
and so on.

 > In my experience only experts in a language ever go look at the
 > specification. They are simply too detailed to give non-experts enough
 > of a high-level view that the information can be consumed. Non-experts
 > tend to go to other resources that provides easier-to-consume
 > information.

Exactly.  Hence the need to separate the need-to-know part
(markup) from the "only if you need to process this stuff"
part, and make the former accessible to all webmasters.
But unless the part factored out is normative, the poor
webmaster may /still/ have to refer to the full HTML 5
Specification, and that is what I believe we must avoid.

Philip TAYLOR
Received on Wednesday, 28 January 2009 19:48:32 GMT

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