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Working Group Decision on ISSUE-91: Removing the aside Element

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Tue, 01 Jun 2010 18:03:24 -0400
Message-ID: <4C0583AC.40400@intertwingly.net>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Original issue:

   http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/issues/91

Poll results (including links to change proposals):

   http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/issue-91-objection-poll/results

First, dispensing with a few preliminaries.  We are talking about a 
concrete feature with normative text -- this is not an editorial issue. 
  It has been specified.  The counter proposal provides rationale for 
the feature.  Implementers have indicated that they are planning on 
implementing it.  Developers have indicated that they plan on using it. 
  A quick scan indicates that this element is being greeted warmly:

   http://www.google.com/search?q=html5+aside

Members of the working group have objected to its removal.

While none of this makes it a fait accompli, it does affect the burden 
of proof.  In particular, it indicates that Henri's "I object to making 
the WG fail to deliver to Web authors by removing the element, because I 
think this author needs deserves to be addressed" is, in fact, a strong 
argument.

So, turning to the objections to the counter-proposal...

Dean suggests standard for new elements, namely that they be 
"essential", and indicates that he doesn't meet this bar.  This standard 
is not one that has been adopted by the working group, nor is it clear 
how to apply such a standard.  Dean himself indicates that he sees a 
greater need for navigational elements, just not this one.

Larry indicated that his input was not a strong objection.

Laura categorized 4 objections, and did so very well, and we thank her 
for that.

Lack of accessibility is a potential work item.  There are people who 
focus on such aspects.  The fact that nobody who does so considers this 
a priority is an indication that this is not a strong objection.  That 
being said, should accessibility related bug reports surface, they will 
be treated seriously.

Lack of implementations will affect the ability of this specification to 
proceed to REC, but will not affect the ability of this spec to proceed 
to LC.

Lack of use (be it for styling reasons or any other reason) could 
conceivably be an issue... down the road.  This is something that should 
be watched for as the spec proceeds.  At the present time, there isn't 
widespread evidence that this feature will NOT be used.  To the 
contrary, this feature appears to be well received.

Added complexity and ambiguity is a valid argument.  Unfortunately, it 
is not exactly a binary quality.  It is not like you can remove the 
aside element and HTML5 will suddenly become simple.  The relevant 
question is whether the additional complexity is merited.  Observing 
whether or not this gets implemented and how users react to the 
implementation is the best way to determine if that balance is right.

Net: there is only one potentially strong argument relevant at this time 
for removing the aside element, and that is the complexity argument. 
Dean's argument is related to this argument.

However, we find the objections to removing the element to be stronger 
-- at this point in time.  That could easily change down the road.  In 
fact, unless there are implementations forthcoming, that WILL change. 
Meanwhile, we encourage people to write specific and actionable bug 
reports on areas where this element is deficient.

- Sam Ruby, on behalf of all three HTML WG co-chairs.
Received on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 22:03:54 GMT

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