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Re: New split-out drafts vs. modular design

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2010 21:16:14 +0100
Message-ID: <4B4A358E.3040901@lachy.id.au>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Larry Masinter wrote:
> The problem is not that HTML5 is described in a single spec,
> the problem is that the WhatWG design for the Web Hypertext
> Application Platform is not modular enough. Taking a monolithic
> design and hacking the specification into pieces doesn't help
> address the design problem, unless the split into separate
> specifications is used as an opportunity to remove
> interdependencies so that each element of the design can
> be read, understood, and implemented independently, and
> evolved asynchronously -- on their own schedules and
> development timelines, and likely in separate groups
> with focused expertise.
>
> It may well be that there are implementation considerations
> that cross modularity boundaries, but those should be
> exceptions, and would best be placed in an implementor's
> guide, not threaded ad hoc into multiple specifications.

 From my past experience doing QA within Opera for our implemetation of 
  various parts of the spec, it is significantly easier to have the spec 
define both how something is to be used and how it is to be implemented 
in the same spec.  If these details were somehow split between an 
authoring spec and an implementer spec as you seem to be suggesting, my 
job would be made significantly more difficult by making it harder to 
understand how things are supposed to work, since there would inherently 
be a lot of cross references between the 2 specs, no matter what.

Even when Web Databases was split from the main spec, it made things 
more difficult due to the necessary amount of references to things still 
defined in the main HTML5 spec (mostly pertaining to Window, Origin and 
Event Loops stuff).  This split was done well before the availability of 
the complete version of the Web Applications 1.0 spec at the WHATWG, so 
I just had to accept it.  (Though, at least now it is available, I'm 
largely insulated from the impact of further unnecessary and unwanted 
spec splits if this group still decides to go ahead with them 
regardless, including the recent microdata split).

So I believe calls for further spec splits would be much better served 
by instead more carefully reogranising the single spec and dividing it 
into multiple pages, appropriately.  In practice, any purported benefit 
gained by splitting and publishing some section of the spec separately 
would be equally gained by publishing that exact same section on its own 
page within the multi-page spec, and it doesn't suffer any of the 
negative consequences of an actual split.

-- 
Lachlan Hunt - Opera Software
http://lachy.id.au/
http://www.opera.com/
Received on Sunday, 10 January 2010 20:16:48 GMT

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