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Re: Why Design Principles?

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 2009 13:41:22 -0700
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <9EB11A7C-D9BD-4401-B09B-D143F4F7C51F@apple.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>

Hi Larry,

Thanks for your feedback.

On Jun 3, 2009, at 12:44 PM, Larry Masinter wrote:

> (have a few hours, sending a couple more posts)
>
> I'm looking forward to a new version of the "Design Principles"
> which includes new introductory material -- as you've indicated --
> explaining the context and applicability of the principles.
>
> I suggest you might want to be step away a bit from the comparison
> with XHTML and the history of WhatWG. I think it is possible
> to talk about the design principles of this group's efforts
> without comparison, or imputed superiority with that of
> any other group.

The intent isn't to imply the superiority of one vision to any other.  
But I think it is important to set the right context. Some of the  
Design Principles can be traced back to the ideas that led to HTML5  
existing in the first place. And they are part of a vision that was  
not always shared by W3C as an institution. I wrote my email in a  
pretty offhanded tone, I will try to word it more carefully for the  
Design Principles draft.

>
>>>> Many of the core ideas in the Design Principles date back to the
>>>> 2004 W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents[2]
>>>> and the schism that arose there. The W3C decided that the future
>>>> of the Web was a new Web based on XML + XHTML + SMIL + SVG + XForms
>>>> + CDF. Some dissenters, chiefly but not exclusively browser
>>>> vendors, felt that the right path forward was incremental
>>>> evolution on top of HTML + CSS + JS + DOM. This was based on
>>>> concerns over continuity, compatibility and so forth. Some of the
>>>> dissenters formed the WHATWG to carry on its vision.
>
> The  "W3C decided that the future of the Web" seemed to imply
> that a decision to work on something was a prediction of the future,
> which would have been foolish.
>
> It doesn't help to dramatize the events as a "schism", since many of  
> the
> WHATWG members also implemented SVG and (to some degree) XHTML
> and XSLT as well as other kinds of web content.
>
> I'd suggest something like:
>
> < The genesis of the Design Principles can be traced back to
> < a 2004 W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents[2].
> < Some of the participants in the workshop (chiefly browser vendors)
> < felt that the future of the web should be an incremental
> < evolution on top of HTML + CSS + JS + DOM. This group formed
> < the WHATWG to develop that vision, based on concerns over
> < continuity, compatibility and so forth, as an alternative to
> < the XML + XHTML + SMIL + SVG + XForms + CDF being pursued
> < within the W3C.

I'll see if I can rephrase this to give less appearance of being less  
judgmental. However, it is absolutely true that the Workshop, the W3C  
as an institution rejected the vision of incrementally improving HTML.  
That's an important part of the context. I also note that you thought  
using the phrase "decided that the future of the Web" made the W3C  
look bad, but here you've used the phrase "felt that the future of the  
Web" to apply to the dissenters.

> ----------------------------------
>>>> In 2007, the W3C decided to return to work on HTML. The HTML
>>>> Working Group was formed.
>
> I think "Decided to return to work" is again pejorative, and
> could be rephrased to avoid the questionable implication
> that W3C wasn't working on HTML before 2007, e.g.:

It is absolutely true that the W3C was not working on HTML before  
2007. All efforts of the old HTML WG were directed towards XHTML,  
principally XHTML2. If you think that reflects poorly on the W3C, then  
I think your issue is with their actions, not with accurate reporting  
of them.

> < In 2007, an agreement was reached between WHATWG and W3C to
> < work together on HTML, starting from the WHATWG document already
> < under development. The W3C HTML was formed.

That sequence of events is not chronologically accurate. The W3C HTML  
WG was planned largely without formal input from the WHAT WG. Only a  
few months after the WHAT WG and only afterwards the HTML WG decided  
to collaborate closely, based on the WHAT WG Web Apps 1.0 draft.

I will try to phrase things in a way that doesn't seem divisive. But  
the temporary W3C abandonment of HTML is an important piece of context  
that explains the Design Principles. I don't think we should sweep it  
under the carpet entirel.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 20:41:59 GMT

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