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Working Group Decision on ISSUE-126 charset-vs-backslashes

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 08:01:15 -0400
Message-ID: <4D8B328B.30408@intertwingly.net>
To: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
The decision follows.  The chairs made an effort to explicitly address
all arguments presented in the Change Proposals on this topic in
addition to arguments posted as objections in the poll.

*** Question before the Working Group ***

There is a basic disagreement in the group as to whether or not the
HTML5 specification should require backslashes to be processed as
escapes in Content-Type headers in <meta> elements.  The result was an
issue, two change proposals, and a straw poll for objections:

http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/issues/126
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Nov/0234.html
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Jan/0356.html
http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/issue-126-objection-poll/results

== Uncontested observations:

* Tests show that Opera, Safari and Konqueror do not implement the
   HTML5 parsing rule.

* UAs may have to change.

* There's no point in using escapes for character set names anyway.

None of these were decisive.  There were people who supported either of
these proposals even after taking these facts into consideration.  The
fact that they were acknowledged up front was appreciated.

=== Arguments not considered

This ISSUE is atypical in that it mostly attracted objections which
were not considered relevant for one reason or another.  These
arguments are quoted below, followed by the reason the argument was not
considered:

   The proposal aims to align processing with the HTTP spec in order to
   remove a willfull violation, but does not achieve that

What we are looking for is objections to the proposal not to the
rationale.  Even if we were to toss out the rationale completely for
the "Parse backslashes in Content-Type headers in <meta> elements in a
HTTP compliant manner" Change Proposal, the net result would be that we
would have two proposals without rationale.

   highly doubtful that it's actually needed for "backwards
   compatibility".

This is contested (albeit without anything resembling evidence).
However even if this were conceded outright, the net result would be
that we have two proposals that are not actually needed for "backwards
compatibility".

    It will be easier to get to REC.

This argument lacks any detail or supporting evidence.

   Removal of a "willful violation" that is not required at all.

This objection is no longer relevant given the decision on ISSUE-125.

   I'm ok with this as long as...

We only consider proposals which actually are submitted.

=== Objections

Once the arguments that aren't considered are removed, we are left with
the strongest objection being one that was uncontested: UAs will have
to change.

We have statements from implementers that do not currently implement
the algorithm defined in the current draft that they intend to do so.
The stated reason given by these implementors: compatibility.  Note that
this is different than backwards-compatibility with content, the intent
here appears to merely be to have the processing on Content-Type
headers in <meta> elements be consistent across all user agents.

We do not have corresponding statements of an interest to implement the
algoritm that is specified in the "parse Content-Type headers in <meta>
elements in a way breaking HTTP's parsing rules" Change Proposal  In
fact, we have statements from implementers that they do not intend to
implement this algorithm.

*** Decision of the Working Group ***

Therefore, the HTML Working Group hereby adopts the Change Proposal to
"not have special handling for backslash" for ISSUE-126.  Of the Change
Proposals before us, this one has drawn the weaker objections.

== Next Steps ==

Bug 10806 is to be CLOSED and marked as WGDecision.

Since the prevailing Change Proposal does not call for a spec change,
no further changes are required.

== Appealing this Decision ==

If anyone strongly disagrees with the content of the decision and would
like to raise a Formal Objection, they may do so at this time. Formal
Objections are reviewed by the Director in consultation with the Team.
Ordinarily, Formal Objections are only reviewed as part of a transition
request.

== Revisiting this Issue ==

This issue can be reopened if new information come up. Examples of
possible relevant new information include:

* A statement from implementers that they intend to implement backslash
   processing of Content-Type headers in <meta> elements
Received on Thursday, 24 March 2011 12:01:51 UTC

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