W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-archive@w3.org > June 2010

formal objection is still blocking publication of HTML 5 specification

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 15:20:08 -0500
Message-ID: <4C211AF8.8070407@burningbird.net>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
CC: www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, Philippe Le Hegaret <plh@w3.org>
> On 06/02/2010 12:44 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
> > This call passes.  Anne: please update the html4-differences.
> The issue[1] holding up publication has been resolved.  Current schedule
> is for publication on Thursday, June 24.  Should that not be possible,
> the next opportunity is Monday, June 28th.

This issue is not resolved.

There is a Formal Objection blocking the publication of the next draft 
for the HTML5 specification. At this time, I have not received a 
satisfactory resolution to my objection. I have not received any 
response to my objection.

My objection is recorded in the following two W3C email archive posts:


That the WhatWG no longer seemingly has disparaging text towards the W3C 
in a document that is then referenced in the W3C HTML5 ignores the 
greater harm:

- There are differences in the two documents, and the differences are 
significant, and the differences are confusing and misleading to the web 

- The web community is becoming increasingly confused about which 
document is the "official" HTML document

- The editor has shown himself to act in a manner counter to the wishes 
of the W3C HTML WG, and does so within the WhatWG document, which is 
then referenced in an official capacity from the W3C document

There is no need for the W3C document to reference the WhatWG document, 
other than acknowledgment, as is given other documents in other 
organizations. There is nothing in the charter, neither is there a 
technical or other need, to reference the licenses of both 
organizations. Doing so leaves the web community confused as to which 
license has precedence.

I am not a lawyer, but there appears to be some potentially problematic 
issues surrounding the legality of the WhatWG "license". There is no 
legal entity known as the WhatWG, and the companies that supposedly 
"own" the copyright for the WhatWG documents--Apple, Opera, and 
Mozilla--have not, as far as we know from the WhatWG site, entered into 
any legally binding agreement that would provide the legal basis for 
such any agreement or license. This may not be an issue with the W3C, 
since the W3C patent policy and other agreements cover the W3C 
documents, but the W3C's continued deference to the WhatWG within the 
HTML5 specification could imply to others that the WhatWG has some form 
of legal standing that it does not have. The W3C's very credibility is 
potentially being compromised by a continued reference to the WhatWG 

There is no need to tell people to address concerns and issues to both 
the W3C and the WhatWG. Such action, again, confuses the web community, 
as well as splitting these concerns across two organizations. Too often, 
discussions in the WhatWG email list appear as already completed edits 
in the W3C document, without any prior discussion within the HTML WG 
email list. Then the only recourse is to begin the discussion yet again 
in the HTML WG, but this time through bugs and issues, all of which can 
take months, even years, to resolve. Encouraging people to address 
concerns with the W3C document in the WhatWG email lists is 

The W3C HTML5 specification should be wholly contained within the W3C 
source control system, without a reference to the WhatWG source control 
system. The only source control that matters to the W3C is the W3C's 
system; therefore this should be the only source control system linked 
with the HTML5 specification. This is particularly important when we 
again note that there are significant and far reaching differences 
between the W3C HTML5 specification in the W3C source control system, 
and the document being maintained in the WhatWG source control system.

The WhatWG document calls itself some form of "future" versionless HTML, 
which is going to create significant confusion about the roles of the 
W3C and the WhatWG as regards the future of HTML. This is particularly 
problematic, because there has been no discussion that there will be a 
future "versionless" HTML, and it gives an impression that the W3C is 
ceding the future of HTML to the WhatWG. This appearance is given 
credence when there is a link to the WhatWG document in the very 
beginning of the W3C HTML5 document.

Many times those items that the W3C HTML working group has disagreed 
with end up as part of this supposed future, versionless edition of 
HTML. They have been items that have been examined, and found wanting by 
the HTML WG. Therefore, they should not appear in any possible version 
of HTML, period. To do otherwise, undermines the credibility of the W3C, 
as well as the HTML WG. There is little that we can do about what the 
WhatWG group does with its documents, but we do not need to give the 
effort additional credibility by linked to the effort.

The HTML5 specification should not refer to a WhatWG FAQ in order to 
explain _anything_ about the W3C document. Again, this undermines the 
authority of the W3C, and adversely impacts on the credibility of the 
W3C, and the W3C HTML Working Group.

Recently some of these same issues regarding links to WhatWG being 
included in another organization's documents arose in regards to the 
BiDirectional or Server-Initiated HTTP Working Group at the Internet 
Engineering Task Force (IETF). The co-chairs of that group made three 
statements that are pertinent to my formal objection[1]:

"Ian Hickson has agreed to continue to be the editor for IETF WG 
WebSocket Protocol draft following the WG rules. We requested consensus 
to adopt the  draft-hixie-thewebsocketprotocol-76 as WG draft. The 
draft-hixie-thewebsocketprotocol has been an individual draft in that 
the author can put whatever they want in it. However as it is now a WG 
document, the editor need to put in the draft not what he wants but what 
the WG wants. The current version (00) is to be considered as a starting 
point and the working group need to figured out what changes are need 
such that it reflect something we can all live with."

The operative term in that paragraph, "something we can all live with", 
is one that can apply to the W3C effort: the W3C HTML5 specification 
document needs to reflect what all groups can live with, though not all 
groups may be happy with all aspects of the document. Specifications 
typically consist of compromises that meet the greatest needs of the 
greatest number of impacted communities.

To allow a link to a "shadow" HTML5 document that refutes these 
carefully, even painfully, arrived at compromises, undermines the work 
of the W3C HTML WG. Not only does this again impact on the credibility 
of the W3C and the HTML WG, it discourages future cooperation and 
compromise, as other groups see their effort either disdained, or 
disregarded. The existence of the shadow document, linked within the W3C 
document, makes these groups more reluctant to compromise, triggering a 
cycle that slows the HTML WG effort, and even potentially threatens the 
future of the W3C HTML WG effort.

There can never be convergence between the W3C and the WhatWG, as long 
as there exists an "easy out" for a subset of members of the HTML WG. If 
there were only one official document, both groups would have to work 
through their differences. There would no longer be an implied threat of 
one group "picking up its marbles, and leaving". Again, the W3C can do 
little about the WhatWG, but it can assert its control over the HTML5 

"We are well aware that the draft has been discussed for before in the 
whatwg community, however as it is now an IETF official document, we 
invite all the people subscribed to the whatwg mailing list and that are 
interested in influencing the design of the WebSocketProtocol to 
subscribe to the HyBi mailing list and to discuss all the issues there. 
This is the only possibility for who care of the WebSocketProtocol to 
influence it, in its way to become an IETF RFC. Directing people to send 
comment to the  whatwg mailing list simply is counter-productive."

It is no less counter-productive to send people to the WhatWG email 
lists in regards to HTML5. That such discussion can occur is outside the 
control of the W3C, true, but aiding and abetting such fragmented, and 
counter-productive, discussions should not be integrated into the W3C 
HTML5 document.

"The only venue to discuss an IETF protocol, as already mentioned is the 
IETF mailing list, and the only place where to find the official version 
of the protocol is within the IETF repository. Any version outside the 
IETF repository has to be considered unofficial and any change has to be 
considered yet to be agreed by the wg."

This is especially important: the W3C needs to assert, once and for all, 
that the only official version of HTML5 is contained within the W3C. 
Removing the links to the WhatWG HTML document, issues database, 
license, FAQ, email list, and source control system would be an 
assertive, concise first step.

Thank you for your time, and your patience with my rather long email. If 
I need to address this email directly to Tim Berners-Lee and Jeff Jaffe, 
in order to meet the procedures in place for a formal objection, and to 
ensure that it is properly addressed, please let me know.


Shelley Powers

> > - Sam Ruby
> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0215.html
> > On 05/18/2010 02:39 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
> >> This is a Call for Consensus (CfC) to publish new revisions of the
> >> following documents in accordance with the Working Group Heartbeat
> >> requirements:
> >>
> >> HTML 5: http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/
> >> HTML+RDFa: http://dev.w3.org/html5/rdfa/
> >> HTML Microdata: http://dev.w3.org/html5/md/
> >> HTML Canvas 2D Context: http://dev.w3.org/html5/2dcontext/
> >> HTML: The Markup Language: http://dev.w3.org/html5/markup/
> >>
> >> and to publish as a First Public Working Draft (FPWD) the following
> >> documents:
> >>
> >> HTML/XHTML Compatibility Authoring Guidelines:
> >> 
> http://dev.w3.org/html5/html-xhtml-author-guide/html-xhtml-authoring-guide.html
> >>
> >>
> >> HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives:
> >> http://dev.w3.org/html5/alt-techniques/
> >>
> >> Additionally, and as we have done with previous republications of the
> >> HTML5 draft, the chairs would like to ask Anne to update the HTML5 
> diffs
> >> from HTML4 to reflect the latest changes.
> >>
> >> http://dev.w3.org/html5/html4-differences/
> >>
> >> Silence will be taken to mean there is no objection, but positive
> >> responses are encouraged. If there are no objections by Wednesday,
> >> May 26th, this resolution will carry.
> >>
> >> Considerations to note:
> >>
> >> - As a First Public Working Draft, this publication will trigger patent
> >> policy review.
> >> - As a Working Draft publication, the document does not need not be
> >> complete, to meet all technical requirements, or to have consensus on
> >> the contents.
> >> - Objections may be made on specific documents but not on others.
> >> Counting the differences document, there are effectively eight 
> different
> >> documents under consideration at this time.
> >>
> >> - Sam Ruby
> >>
> >
Received on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 20:20:50 UTC

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