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Re: Points of order on this WG

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 01:24:35 -0400
Message-ID: <4A430A13.6050603@w3.org>
To: "Nikunj R. Mehta" <nikunj.mehta@oracle.com>
CC: public-webapps WG <public-webapps@w3.org>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>, Arthur Barstow <art.barstow@nokia.com>, Jeff Mischkinsky <JEFF.MISCHKINSKY@oracle.com>
Hi, Nikunj-

I think Mike was overly blunt, but essentially correct in his response, 
but I'd like to add a specific comment inline...

Nikunj R. Mehta wrote (on 6/24/09 8:13 PM):
>
> On Jun 23, 2009, at 5:10 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:
>> The Web Storage specification is someone dead-locked right now due to the
>> lack of consensus on whether to use SQL or not.

I don't buy this argument for an instant, and I'd be very surprised if 
anyone in the WebApps WG did.  This specification was published as 
specified because it matched the behavior (more or less) of an 
implementation (WebKit), and it's disingenuous to pretend that that 
doesn't set a precedent for the future development of the specification.

Let's be frank: there is good reason to specify and standardize 
something that exists in a browser, because there is implementation 
experience, and opportunity for widespread adoption, which is often 
good; this is especially so with an implementation in a widespread 
open-source engine like WebKit, because it can be reused.  I don't find 
fault with that premise.

But just because it's been implemented doesn't mean it's the correct or 
best (or even a good) solution.  There is less justification for 
insisting on a single solution when it's only been implemented in one 
browser engine, and only just recently.  There's little evidence that 
this will work well for other implementers, nor that this is the 
solution that works best for content developers.

I cannot take seriously a claim that a spec can't be changed due to a 
"lack of consensus" when the claimant has openly and repeatedly 
indicated a disinterest in consensus.  So, the only conclusion I can 
draw is that the spec is currently in a holding pattern to allow the 
currently specified solution to gain defacto weight through real-world 
content, and possibly garner premature implementations before it is even 
in LC, thus making it all but impossible to change.  As Kyle Weems put 
it: Deny, Delay, Too Late.

Nikunj has asked that his proposal be given equal weight and 
consideration.  While I'm not sure that's possible even now, because of 
the existing implementation, I personally think it is reasonable to give 
him a platform to demonstrate the relative merits of his alternate proposal.

Like Mike said, Hixie is *an* editor of the Web Storage spec; I think 
it's entirely reasonable for Nikunj to co-edit the spec.  It is neither 
too early, nor too late to present alternate models in the same spec. 
It's only just a FPWD.

That said...


> The WG chair went ahead with the publication of the Web Storage draft
> overriding serious objections about it's direction and emphasis. While
> nominally the chair and editor are following a process in terms of
> publication sequence, I see little evidence of a collaborative or group
> effort. We are not here in the WG to merely rubber stamp a small group's
> opinions as a standard.

Unfortunately, that small group normally consists of the browser 
vendors, and when they decide to implement something, there is value in 
bending with the wind.

I would endorse you, Nikunj, to edit the Web Storage spec to include 
your proposal.  However, I will also say that the burden of proving that 
your solution is better lies on you.  I'm not going to pretend this is 
not an uphill battle.  If you or someone on the Oracle team wants to 
demonstrate an implementation of your proposal, or even better, 
contribute that code to the WebKit or Mozilla codebase, that would be a 
compelling way of demonstrating relative merits... cutting-edge authors 
could experiment with both and provide feedback about what aspects of 
each they prefer.  That would be an effective argument in favor of one 
or the other.

I will say that Hixie's proposal (which, if I understand it, comes from 
Apple's implementation) has an advantage, because he has been working 
within W3C and directly with browser vendors for a while; he knows how 
to write specifications in the style that implementers prefer, and he 
also has their respect on technical matters.  You would do well to 
specify your proposal in a manner similar to his, with similar detail, 
and to cultivate credibility and relationships with browser vendors if 
you want to gain preference for your proposal.  I'm sorry this is not 
the most encouraging statement, but I believe it is factual, and it is 
intended as helpful advice.


> My problem, however, is that the WG is operating in an autocratic and an
> unaccountable manner.

It's operating in a competitive manner, which is unsurprising 
considering that it is composed largely of rival companies.  Letting 
Apple get the upper hand in that competition through its preemptive 
implementation of web storage is suboptimal, and I would hope that the 
better technical solution would bear out.  But it does not violate 
process as far as I can see.

Mike and I are here to aid the WG and to advise the group on process, 
but we are not here to referee.  We simply don't have the time or resources.

I suppose I would ask the chairs to weigh in on what they think the best 
way forward is here.

Regards-
-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, SVG and WebApps WGs
Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 05:24:46 GMT

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