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

From: David Singer <singer@mac.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2017 14:52:15 -0800
Cc: Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>, "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-id: <AC957C81-02CD-4728-B0E0-0CB6960588FE@mac.com>
To: Michael Champion <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>
I pretty much agree.

I also think incubation is that period when you take something from a general idea, to the point where the ‘rough edges’ have been smoothed out, and in particular enough detailed work has been done — in both writing and experimenting — that you are pretty sure ‘it all works out’ and that the idea has no lurking gotchas.

“Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.”
“We want regularly scheduled conceptual breakthroughs.”
“…and then…a miracle happens.”

By the time we spin up a WG, with team contact, the dates ought to be at least plausible, it should be possible for the test suite and experimental implementations to be under way.  WGs cost more; they are about completing those (tests, interop, horizontal review, and so on).

I’m fine with WGs that can manage incubation in-group: neither CGs in general nor WICG are the only place to incubate.

> On Jan 3, 2017, at 14:36 , Michael Champion <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com> wrote:
> 
> Thanks Chris, what you say is very much in sync with Microsoft’s position on incubation, especially:
>  
> ·         “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).  “
>  
> ·          “incubation has to enable graceful failure.“  Once a spec is published by a WG as an official working draft, it takes on a life of its own – the team will expect it to progress, chairs/editors will feel responsible for advancing it and resolving issues, so it is hard to admit failure.  Better to delay putting things on the “water slide” until you’re reasonably sure they will get to the bottom reasonably intact.
>  
> ·         “Incubation doesn't have to mean the WICG. “  Exactly.  Incubation is about WHAT should be accomplished before a spec is published by a WG, not a set of procedures defining HOW incubation should happen.
>  
> ·         “Incubation doesn't shortcut review.”   Right.  Just because WICG or some other CG, or IG, or open source project might decide that a spec is ready for the Rec Track doesn’t mean that some WG has to pick it up or that a new WG deserves to be created.  That’s the decision of a WG (if the spec is within its chartered scope) or W3C to create a new WG with the spec in scope.
>  
>  
> From: Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>
> Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 1:14 PM
> To: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
> Cc: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>, "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
> Subject: Can we get consensus on what incubation means (was: Re: WICG Incubation vs CSSWG Process)
> Resent-From: <public-w3process@w3.org>
> Resent-Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 1:15 PM
>  
> 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 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 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: "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
>> 
>  

Dave Singer

singer@mac.com
Received on Tuesday, 3 January 2017 22:52:58 UTC

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