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Re: Please explain the role of the W3C in the continuing development of HTML

From: Karl Dubost <karl@la-grange.net>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 08:54:44 -0500
Message-Id: <1114F3AF-A8ED-49AD-8155-539466DC8D2B@la-grange.net>
Cc: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>, jeff@w3.org, timbl@w3.org, plh@w3.org, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Just giving context for helping people reading later on.

Le 15 févr. 2011 à 06:05, Ian Hickson a écrit :
> What happened is that despite begging for the W3C to let us develop HTML

s/us/(subgroup of W3C members being browsers vendors)

> at the W3C, the W3C said no,

The majority of W3C members said no. 
Specifically during the April 2004 Workshop

> so we created a mailing list outside the W3C  


> and did it there, and then a few years later the W3C asked if they could 
> work with us, so we said yes, and now the spec is co-developed.


> (Though it often feels like the W3C staff would feel happier if they were the sole responsible party instead of cooperating with another.)

Perception. There are certainly different opinions among W3C members on how to cooperate, work on this. Usually the staff is trying to represent the different opinions of the W3C membership. Difficult exercise :)

> (Also, I _wish_ that HTML was moving to my visions for the Web. 
> Unfortunately for my ego, reality doesn't agree with a lot of my opinions, and the spec is written for reality. For example, I'd have done away with the style="" attribute, with <div>, with the <!DOCTYPE>, with the inane complexities around <script> parsing, etc. But we can't, because we're following the HTML design principles that the W3C published, and others in similar vein, to focus on pragmatism and interoperability.)

entirely correct.
HTML design principles
Feedback on these design principles 

>> Beyond HTML5 the WHAT WG ("Maintaining and evolving HTML since 2004") 
>> appear to be unilaterally asserting their role as the centre of HTML 
>> development with their 'living' standard.
> For the record, the WHATWG has no desire to compete with the W3C, and 
> desires only to cooperate.

define WHATWG here. The participants of the list? The people listed as WHATWG members. 
A note for people who do not know. the charter of WHATWG defines

Anne van Kesteren (Opera, W3C member)
Brendan Eich (Mozilla, W3C member)
David Baron (Mozilla, W3C member)
David Hyatt (Apple, W3C member)
Dean Edwards (independent?)
Håkon Wium Lie (Opera, W3C Member)
Ian Hickson (Google, W3C Member)
Johnny Stenback (Mozilla, W3C Member) 
Maciej Stachowiak (Apple, W3C member)

> To that end, every chair of the HTML working  group has been invited to join the WHATWG

seems not

> (though so far only those who were members of the WHATWG list before becoming HTMLWG chairs have ever been on the WHATWG list), and the WHATWG tries to always list both the W3C and the WHATWG specs when linking to specs, and tries to always mention the W3C when making blog posts, etc. Unfortunately, the same courtesies have not been extended to the WHATWG;

Clearly the opposite

> indeed, it took over a year to even convince the W3C to allow us to mention that WHATWG spec is under a more liberal license under the copyright notice in the W3C spec, for instance, 

s/more liberal license/CreativeCommons license/

> and W3C messaging on HTML never mentions the WHATWG, despite the W3C now apparently even benefiting financially from the work we have done over the past few years.

no data on this. 
Just let stick to the facts.

> I would welcome the W3C moving to the "living standard" model so innate to the way the Web works for all of its Web specifications.

There are perpetual discussions on how the W3C is working and evolves. There has always been a slow pace for finding the right balance (with benefits and drawbacks to this slow pace), but always with changes in the end. Example: Patent policy from RAND to RF, opening of groups to wider participation, discussion of charters in public, etc. 
These changes have been the results of feedback from W3C members, public, external groups. 

There will be more conflicts because it is exactly the goal of W3C bringing the conflicts to the table and represent the different parties of the Web. I have a tendency to say that without conflicts, or opinions diversity, there would be no W3C.

> It's already effectively been using it for CSS and XML for the past ten years, and for HTML for the past four. The WHATWG has no interest in monopolising this model; we're using it because we honestly believe it's the best way of improving the Web, not to lay claim to the center of HTML development.

"we" is ambiguous. There has been members of W3C and people from different  companies with a diversity on opinions on what is the Web. Some people for example think the Web as something which goes through the browser only, some will think that it is a framework for exchanging messages, etc. etc.

>> I for one can't see how that model alone can fulfil the demands of 
>> organisations which rely on fixed specifications to decide policy (and 
>> developers to build against).
> That's a different topic, but since I'm here: I hear often about people 
> wanting "stability" and needing "fixed" specs to refer to, but nobody ever seems to notice that RECs aren't stable nor fixed, and nobody ever seems to mind that when people refer to RECs they immediately ignore what those RECs say if they have bugs, as if the specs had in fact been updated. 

Because specs are used by different social infrastructure than just the implementers. They are used by legalese, business people (contracts), authors, etc. This is part of the reality. It might be unfortunate but we have to live to this current reality, the same Web we live with broken markup. That doesn't mean abandoning efforts to change the usage of these constituents to more appropriate sources, or work methods.

> (Indeed sometimes, as with XML, the specs even are updated, in place, 
> despite the claims that stability is needed.) Could you elaborate (maybe 
> with a somewhat trimmed cc list) on what exactly it is that these 
> organisations demand, and maybe more importantly, why they think that the  W3C model serves their needs?

Long discussions which deserve a separate thread of better a page on a wiki. http://www.w3.org/wiki/HTML_usage

Karl Dubost
Montréal, QC, Canada
Received on Tuesday, 15 February 2011 13:55:11 UTC

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