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

From: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 19:28:56 -0500
Message-Id: <5.1.1.6.2.20090129180344.052b3b88@mail.muzmo.com>
To: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

At 11:59 AM 1/29/2009 -0500, Boris Zbarsky wrote:

>Karl Dubost wrote:
>
>>2. About the First Public Working Draft, A working draft is a draft, has 
>>a lot of issues, conflicts, etc. It's normal. It is also an attempt to 
>>see if we can organize in a different way the technology.  I might be 
>>wrong but the reactions I read from people being afraid of having 
>>normative statements in HTML 5 Markup document seems to be fear of losing 
>>control on HTML 5 original spec.
>
>I think that sort of hits the nail on the head, in a sense.  From my point 
>of view, it seems that the people who are insisting on having a separate 
>normative spec and claiming that publishing without that is a non-option 
>are hoping that this will lead to decreased attention on that text from 
>some constituencies and increased attention from others, resulting in a 
>power and control shift in terms of development of the HTML vocabulary.

For what it's worth, I'm almost certain that any HTML 5 Markup Language 
Working Draft
would only become normative if it became a Recommendation, which entails a 
variety
of process steps that forestall any risk of non-democratic power grabs.


>Of course no one has come out and explicitly stated this as a goal.  I 
>would be quite surprised if someone had, but that might be the cynic in me 
>speaking.  It might even be a worthwhile goal; I reserve judgement on that.

I'm just trying to find some middle ground where web architects and markup 
language
experts can view HTML through a formal language specification. These 
experts are
willing to do the work required to produce the specification and wish only 
the opportunity
to do so. Logicians and tacticians can prognosticate ad nauseam about the 
eventual usefulness
or utility of beginning such an endeavor, but there remains an important 
segment who are
stepping up to co-operate and do their own heavy lifting.

>On the other hand, no one has replied to the "it's not clear what the 
>reasoning behind having this first draft be normative is, so it sounds 
>like there are ulterior motives that are not being disclosed" questions 
>that were raised...  Those questions were basically trying to tiptoe about 
>the above characterization of the situation, as far as I can tell.

There is no intention on my part for any Working Draft to be normative.

>So in the interests of short-circuiting what seems to me to be somewhat 
>pointless discussion, I'd like it if people who think that my point of 
>view above is incorrect would correct it.  That is, explain the insistence 
>on creating multiple normative documents.  If my point of view above is in 
>fact correct, I'd appreciate confirmation thereof; I won't hold it against 
>you, I promise.  Either way, at least we'll all know where we stand and 
>can have a productive discussion to resolve our differences, which should 
>be clearer at that point, instead of wasting time on trying to guess where 
>people are really coming from.

At the FTF meeting in France, there was a lot of discussion about the need 
for a language formalism
that is not evident in the existing editor's draft. There was a session in 
which the W3C TAG
engaged the working group on the subject. The recent Markup Language draft 
is a first step
toward analyzing and documenting HTML5 as a markup language in response to 
requests
made by the TAG and others.

>For the record, and in the spirit of the above, the control issue is of a 
>lot less relevance to me than the issue of having UA behavior specified 
>unambiguously.  Said unambiguous specification is really the sole reason 
>for my participation in this process at the moment, since I don't have 
>strong views on the direction the HTML language should evolve in.

I fully support the need for specification of browser behaviour. I have yet 
to perform a thorough
review of the editor's draft, but when I do, it will be with the eye of a 
technical author/editor.
It is my hope that all of our editors are successful in the eyes of their 
constituents and audiences.

>In my experience with the W3C (mostly interaction with the HTML, CSS, SVG, 
>and XML Linking working groups), as soon as there is more than  one 
>normative document that applies to a given situation conflicts arise.

Let's try to do better this time. It is possible to cooperate. The result 
will be better.

>This happens even in the face of the best wishes of both parties to avoid 
>conflicts, because what happens is that the two editors and the two groups 
>of people working on the documents, don't have a single unified mental 
>model that covers the intricacies of both specifications.  As a result, 
>corner cases of all sorts end up quite problematic. Perhaps we won't have 
>the working group fragment into such two separate constituencies, but I 
>have my doubts about that (esp. since as I said above it seems that some 
>would welcome such fragmentation).

One of the lessons that I have taken from the evolution of HTML is that 
there is no
single view that rules them all. The HTML Working Group, in each of its 
many forms,
never allowed a single view to prevail, and more importantly, neither has 
the market.

It seems that it would behoove us all to try to accommodate each other.

>In summary, I do think that having multiple normative documents covering 
>the same ground in any sort of steady state is a bad idea no matter what 
>our other goals are.  So if we head down that path I would like to see a 
>plan, with explicit milestones, for leaving that path (that is, ending up 
>with exactly one normative document covering any given part of HTML).

Plans and milestones are reasonable expectations.

I think you might need to define the terms that you use in the expression:
"exactly one normative document covering any given part of HTML"
in the context of the HYPERTEXT Markup Language.

If, in the end, the Markup Language draft is used as fodder for Ian's draft,
then so it shall go. But for now, an editor has stepped forward to produce
a document that he and others want to develop. I will certainly offer my
time as an editorial and technical reviewer, and I think that I have seen
that others are willing to pitch in too. If it turns out to be a problem in
the future, then let's deal with the problems democratically as they arise.

Just so you know, I have submitted drafts in the past only to have them
be overtaken by events. It happens. In the end it's all about getting results
that make the web work.

Oh, and one other thing, I have worked on a lot of HTML Working Groups
and I have to say that "the HTML as she are spoke" is not what I would have
chosen, but I continue to be proud of the part that I have had to play in
its evolution.

There. That's my best pitch. What do you think now?
Received on Friday, 30 January 2009 00:30:01 UTC

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