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Can we get consensus on what incubation means (was: Re: WICG Incubation vs CSSWG Process)

From: Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 2017 13:14:50 -0800
Message-ID: <CAJK2wqWy19ie9oN+L-WAF60jLcJg4VkTYn3brt=52LVV4jrQRQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
Cc: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>, "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
My apologies for not participating in this thread sooner (but, in my
defense - holiday hiatus).  Retitled as per Fantasai's suggestion.  A few
thoughts:


   1. I think Daniel's definition of incubation had the right core: Incubation
   enables exploration of ideas to a stage where they are an interesting
   enough and mature enough proposal to become a stated deliverable for a WG
   (i.e., an Editor's Draft and then Working Draft on the REC track of the
   Working Group).
   2. However, there's a key feature that is missing there, that I went
   into at some length at TPAC - incubation has to enable graceful failure.
   By that, I mean that ideas that are being incubation don't have a timeframe
   for completion, nor is there any penalty if an idea goes back on the shelf
   (or dies completely) - and in particular, *it's clear when that happens.*
   For example, the CSS WG charter <https://www.w3.org/Style/2016/css-2016>
   has a large number (29, I think) of features that are "Exploring".  The CSS
   WG *has* been incubating ideas for about 20 years (although for the first
   couple of years, to be frank, we were just slamming most of the ideas
   straight into the specs, since there was a lot of blank ground) - but the
   scale has gotten a bit out of hand, and yes, the explicit "incubation" is
   partly about getting more externals involved.
   3. As for the commentary on scroll-anchoring, et al - yeah, there are
   always rough edges, and vendors will not always follow your best
   practices <https://www.w3.org/TR/CSS/#future-proofing> on future
   proofing, when there are critical user functions to address.  However, I
   will call your attention to Rick Byers' explicit comment in that issue
   <https://github.com/w3c/csswg-drafts/issues/676#issuecomment-264066547>:
   "The actual API surface area is tiny and rarely needed, so I'm optimistic
   we can continue to incubate,* including making breaking changes if it
   becomes necessary to get interop in the future*."  (Underline is mine.)
    If we ship features before REC, we are responsible for maintaining.
   4. I'm not sure where the assertion that this [early/"premature"/"sans
   REC"/"unstable" feature shipping] doesn't happen was made; I certainly
   wouldn't have said it.  It will happen.  It has always happened.  This
   needs to be managed, and minimized as possible, but I don't believe it can
   be avoided - and so I want to make sure we clearly define it, and make sure
   implementers understand their responsibilities.
   5. Fantasai, you stated "Furthermore, many WICG people seem to think the
   spec should be 'done', aside from minor details, when they're done with it,
   and the WGs shouldn't be involved in any actual spec development work."
    I'm not sure who those "many WICG people" are - to put it on the record, I
   believe this will sometimes be pretty true, and many times not be true.
   6. You've made a case for the "WG's broader expertise" not being applied
   in an incubation process because "In practice, the people working on
   something in the WICG (or in any other limited-audience 'incubation' group)
   are a subset of the people who would pay attention to it once it's
   transitioned to the CSSWG."  Part of the challenge is that it is NOT, in
   fact, a strict subset; it's a somewhat different set - I'm sure there would
   be heavy overlap, of course, but the goal was to a) open up the
   contribution process and make it easier, and b) be sure to delineate
   carefully things that are on the water slide to becoming RECs, and things
   that aren't (yet).  For a given issue, even a given CSS issue, I don't
   think it's true that incubation needs to block on, say, you or DBaron's
   attention.  Sure, for many features there's a point where it has to fit
   very well in the context of the rest of CSS, but that doesn't block
   incubation imo.

In short, two points:

   - Incubation doesn't have to mean the WICG.  I feel like I've said this
   in every conversation about WICG since it was created, but maybe I missed
   one or two.  If you want to take this spirit into the CSS WG and do
   everything under that umbrella, then I'd ask you consider what we're really
   trying to solve for with incubation (graceful failure, clear stability
   indicators, open participation with clear IP commitments), and figure out
   how to achieve the same aims in whatever forum you want.
   - Incubation doesn't shortcut review. The point was to have clearer,
   more complete proposals and explorations before putting features on rails
   to shipping as a REC, that's all.


On Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 12:34 AM, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
wrote:

> On 12/27/2016 06:09 PM, Brian Kardell wrote:
>
>> fantasai wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> Whether or not incubation involves [implementing and/or shipping
>>> a feature ] depends on who you're asking. I'm merely pointing out
>>> that to the extent that it would involve that, it would circumvent
>>> the WG's ability to "review", as Michael put it.
>>>
>>
>> ... this does not fit the meaning of incubation of anything I have
>> advocated for nor how I have seen anything work so far in WICG.
>> Nothing in incubation should ship into production natively.  I would
>> actually consider this a thing that incubation is there to help prevent
>>
>> I'm not trying to be argumentative here I'm just stressing that I think
>> it's really difficult to have any kind of conversation without a fair
>> degree of common understanding what the words even mean.  If there is
>> an especially ambiguous understanding of what is meant by incubation
>> (and there seems to be), then _that_ seems like something we should
>> work to clear that up ASAP, before continuing other sorts of discussions
>> that require that.  How can we do that?
>>
>
> Maybe not have people be like "I made a draft in the WICG, there were
> a handful of comments there that were addressed, we're planning to
> ship it in a couple of months, just fyi." [1][2] and then assert that
> this doesn't happen?
>
> [1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2016Dec/0000.html
>
> [2] For context, stuff isn't approved by the *CSSWG* for production
>     unless it's either in CR or there's an explicit CSSWG resolution
>     about it; that's very clearly stated and was agreed to by all
>     Members in
>       https://www.w3.org/TR/CSS/#future-proofing
>
>
> Anyway, this is off-topic for this thread, maybe start a new one
> titled "Can we get consensus on what incubation means".
>
> ~fantasai
>
>
Received on Tuesday, 3 January 2017 21:15:24 UTC

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