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

From: Nathan <nathan@webr3.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 00:31:04 +0000
Message-ID: <4D5B1AC8.6090602@webr3.org>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Jeffrey Jaff <jeff@w3.org>
CC: www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Tue, 15 Feb 2011, Nathan wrote:
>> Ian Hickson wrote:
>>> On Tue, 15 Feb 2011, Nathan wrote:
>>>> The W3C timeline and model of releasing major versions "5" "6" is 
>>>> far too slow, whilst the WHAT WG Living Standard is a constantly 
>>>> moving target that the common web folk simply can't keep up with.
>>>> It would be great to see the two approaches balanced such that 
>>>> announcements are made like "HTML has just been updated, features 
>>>> a,b have been added, bugs h,j,k have been fixed and z has been 
>>>> deprecated".
>>> Why do people want a specification of HTML with known bugs but without 
>>> those bugs being fixed as soon as possible? Wouldn't referring to a 
>>> specification with known bugs be harmful to interoperability?
>> Indeed, perhaps I haven't been clear, I'm suggesting that if bugs h,j,k 
>> have been fixed and are ready to push to the rec, then agree they are 
>> fixed and push them, not to wait 18 months until features a,b are also 
>> ready to be pushed.
> So what you're really describing is a situation where we have two living 
> standards, one with new features and one with only features that are 
> widely implemented? I guess that could make sense; having one for people 
> who only want to use features that are widely implemented, and one for 
> people who are implementing the features or on the bleeding edge.

[the important message is in the last few paragraphs]

Yes, something like that, it's (unsurprisingly) comparable to the common 
software development lifecycle, like that of the browsers, for example 
google chrome, a dev channel, a beta channel, a stable channel, and 
where none of those channels exactly matches a major revision number 
(for very long, at least). I'd suggest that there are definitely at 
least 3 channels for HTML and web apps specifications, for example if 
you consider websql and indexeddb, both of those would have a dev 
channel, and a beta channel, but neither of them has a stable channel yet.

This setup is extremely common, and appears to work for the web 
community on an opt in basis, for example my mother uses the stable 
channel of chrome, my partner uses the beta, and I use both the beta and 
the dev channel for different purposes.

HTML and the long term "living" standards need the same setup, you want 
and need the dev channel (and you're own canary/working/untested 
channel), I want the dev and the beta channel, a large proportion of the 
web, and w3c member orgs want and need the stable channel.

> The W3C does not provide this (and to my knowledge, has no plans to -- in 
> fact the W3C process doesn't have a mechanism in place for this kind of 
> thing currently).

Neither the WHAT WG or the W3C provide the above, the W3C is in fact 
somewhat closer to the model because it has all the channels but still 
follows an older (and much slower) "WD/LC/CR/PR/REC" model, which is 
somewhat similar to the alpha, rc1, rc2 type release cycle in the 
software world, whilst the WHAT WG effectively only offers the 
dev/canary channel as a "living standard" with notes as to the stability 
of features.

> The WHATWG spec kind of provides this, in that each section is labeled 
> with how stable it is by an annotation in the margin. We could publish two 
> specs, though, removing all the new fetures from one of them... would that 
> help? They'd still be living standards, not specs with a cycle, but we 
> could omit less stable features from one of the specs. Not sure how useful 
> it would really be, people seem to have had no trouble using the features 
> from "HTML5" long before any aspect of the relevant specs have been 
> labeled as finished at the W3C.

Sorry to pop everyones bubble here, but middle 80% of the web (read as 
nearly every developer working in a web design/development agency) is 
uncatered for by both W3C and WHAT WG, they're all saying "where's HTML 
5" and waiting for new features, some of which (not all) they could 
already be using today - for them the same scenario could continue when 
"HTML 6" is being developed. The 10% at the only very stable please end 
of the spectrum is handled by W3C (and they don't appreciate the WHAT WG 
release cycle), and WHAT WG handles the other 10% at the bleeding edge 
end of the spectrum (and they don't appreciate the W3C release cycle).

WHAT WG, your living standard cutting edge developer version will always 
exist, and by definition has to, so that 10% you cater for always will 
be catered for regardless.

W3C, your stable far from cutting edge version will always exist, and by 
definition has to (because there's always an old stable version 
somewhere), so that 10% you currently cater for always will be catered 
for regardless.

Now, what I'm saying here, is where's the release cycle for the 80% of 
the web? the majority, the people like me.?

That's the request and the void that needs filled - please, all of you 
in HTML land, work it out soon, whatever concessions have to be made. 
Even if the current status-quo of "HTML 5" LC through to REC in 2014 
stays, and the "Living Standard" stays, at least get a semi stable beta 
channel up there on /TR/, updated quite regularly (3 month rule please) 
and point to it from all angles as a reference for the rest of us.

Hope this mail finds you all well :)


Received on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 00:32:59 UTC

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