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Re: IE Team's Feedback on the XHR Draft

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 19:12:07 -0800
Cc: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, Sunava Dutta <sunavad@windows.microsoft.com>, "public-webapi@w3.org" <public-webapi@w3.org>, Gideon Cohn <gidco@windows.microsoft.com>, Zhenbin Xu <zhenbinx@windows.microsoft.com>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, Marc Silbey <marcsil@windows.microsoft.com>, Ahmed Kamel <Ahmed.Kamel@microsoft.com>
Message-Id: <6897FBFB-81F0-4225-A515-7FF24F233E7A@apple.com>
To: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>

Hi Doug,

On Feb 7, 2008, at 2:32 PM, Doug Schepers wrote:

>
> Hi, Anne-
>
> I'm stepping in here to inform on a matter of process.  This is not  
> a judgment on the technical merits of either position.
>
>
> Anne van Kesteren wrote (on 2/7/08 5:42 AM):
>>
>>> o   As per our agreement in the tech plenary the spec will conform  
>>> to IE's implementation of XHR (with the exception of constants)  
>>> and will be changed accordingly. The tests are important for us  
>>> and other UAs as it's the guarantor of that.
>> We have had no such agreement. I indicated that we have followed  
>> the IE for a lot of scenarios, but there are some deviations.
>
> It is true that there was no formal resolution on this issue.
>
> (As an aside: Sunava, for future reference, it's most expeditious to  
> request a formal resolution on matters about which you feel very  
> strongly.  This clears up any ambiguity, makes a point of reference  
> for future discussion, and gives opponents an opportunity to present  
> counter-arguments. )
>
> However, I seem to recall general agreement about this point among  
> the majority of participants; alas, this was not clearly captured in  
> the minutes (though the minutes are good, it's hard to grab general  
> sentiment).

I was present for the discussion at the Tech Plenary, and I recall the  
following:

1) Sunava was concerned that the XMLHttpRequest spec as written would  
cause compatibility problems for IE, because it might deviate  
significantly from IE's current behavior.
2) Anne indicated that the spec in fact followed IE behavior pretty  
closely, more so than other browsers, where behavior diverged, and  
that this was a general goal but not a strict requirement.
3) We all agreed that it was Microsoft's responsibility to review the  
spec, test IE's implementation, and reported on differences between  
IE's behavior and the spec, and particularly note ones that may affect  
web compatibility.
4) We agreed that, given this information, we would study what changes  
to the spec were appropriate and would make reasonable accomodations.

In particular, Sunava promised that Microsoft would do #3 with a  
deadline of a month after the tech plenary. Now three months later,  
Microsoft has not provided the information they agreed to gather.

I certainly do not recall the group making an agreement to change the  
spec to be 100% IE-compliant, or to make any changes for IE's benefit  
in the absence of further specific information from Microsoft.

Given this, I think the ball remains in Microsoft's court to point out  
where the spec deviates from IE's behavior, and how important these  
behaviors are for compatibility. I am opposed to the group making any  
kind of open-ended commitment in the absence of specific information.

> Moreover, this is, in fact, what this WG was chartered to do  
> regarding XHR:
> "This deliverable should begin by documenting the existing  
> XMLHttpRequest interface."
>
> The question becomes, is IE's implementation to be considered  
> canonical, or is it up to interpretation vis a vis later  
> implementations (FF, Opera, Safari, et al)?

We also later agreed that a spec so broad that it made all existing  
implementations conforming would end up being useless; the conformance  
requirements would have not aided interoperability. Thus we extended  
our goal to specify something as close to existing implementations as  
possible, but also specific in its conformance requirements.

> Pursuant to that, is there a way to document the existing behavior  
> such that it does not make existing implementation retroactively  
> "non-conforming"?  Or that does not affect existing content?  I  
> don't know whether or not the existing specification meets these  
> criteria, but I think that would be the best path forward.

I think the spec should consider all of the existing implementations  
and in particular what aspects of those implementations are important  
in practice for web compatibility. I believe it does a good job of  
this, but of course specific information to the contrary from  
Microsoft or other parties would be welcome.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Friday, 8 February 2008 03:12:27 GMT

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