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Re: [whatwg] Administrivia: Update on the relationship between the WHATWG HTML living standard and the W3C HTML5 specification

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2012 16:24:50 +0000 (UTC)
To: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, Bronislav Kluńćka <Bronislav.Klucka@bauglir.com>, David Bruant <bruant.d@gmail.com>, Karl Dubost <karld@opera.com>, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
cc: www-archive@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.1207251613110.27616@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>

As noted on the WHATWG mailing list, please do not post e-mails such as 
this to the WHATWG mailing list. I have cc'ed the www-archive@w3.org list 
on this reply to maintain a public record of my replies. If you have any 
specific questions you'd like replies to, please don't hesitate to ask me.

On Wed, 25 Jul 2012, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
> There's been some commentary about this in blogosphere e.g.
> http://www.xmltoday.org/content/inevitable-forking-html
> Is it accurate to say that html5 is being 'forked', or would that be an 
> overstatement?

I think the term people would prefer is "branch", but without knowing 
exactly what you mean by the terms, it's hard to say which to use exactly. 
I did use the term fork in the original e-mail in this thread:


On Wed, 25 Jul 2012, Bronislav Kluń~Mka wrote:
> The question is, who will follow those set of rules. Both HTML5 and HTML TLS
> can claim to be canonical, both can be valid for different groups.
> Let's just hope all major vendors will chose the same...

In the case of the WHATWG spec, we will ensure that the spec follows the 
browsers. Regarding the specific use of the word "canonical", please see 
my reply to Steve here:


On Wed, 25 Jul 2012, David Bruant wrote:
> Who are those different groups? As far as I know, the major producer of 
> HTML content is a group usually refered as "web developers".
> I have a genuine question which is: does what any other group think 
> about HTML matters?

Yes. Browser vendors, in particular, in practice, matter more: if all the 
developers want one thing, but all the vendors want another, the vendors 
will implement what they want and the developers will be stuck with that 
and won't get what they want.

Much of my job is a matter of trying to convince the browser vendors to 
want what the developers want, or, failing that, to at least make sure 
that what the vendors want addresses all the needs that the developers 
have that led them to want what they want.

> Reality is that implementors implement and for the most part, the spec 
> codifies *afterwards* what has been implemented. The biggest part of 
> HTML5 has been exactly that. And sometimes between the first 
> implementation and the standard, other implement the same thing. 
> Sometimes with bug, sometimes they get the initial implementors to fix a 
> bug before copying it, sometimes no one care about what has been 
> implemented and it's removed.

Well said.

On Wed, 25 Jul 2012, Bronislav Kluń~Mka wrote:
> I completely agree... again, we live trough that (Netscape and MS box 
> model vs. W3C box model; W3C burial of HTML vs. pretty much everybody 
> else minus XML zealots; W3C XHMTL2 vs. no-one because no-one cared...). 
> I agree with your description of HTML progress. It worked in browser 
> wars (W3C codified what actually already worked - what was in spec. 
> should actually work) and now without the war but through cooperation 
> the progress can be as quick as 15 years ago but much less painfull. 
> Only by extensive using of some version of draft can that draft be fully 
> tested and, if necessary, udated. And the "specification process" round 
> trip is counterproductive.

I share your optimism.

> And my last remark: I hope major browser vendors will chose to follow 
> the same path, the same implementation of tasks, but not all major 
> vendors are part of WHATWG (as far as I know), and if some choose to 
> follow W3C and some different WHATWG drafts of the same task, what would 
> happen? (Thou I do not think it actually will happen). To put it simply, 
> it does not matter, what either W3C or WHATWG codify, what matter is, 
> what browsers implement - it was always about vendors... W3C forgot 
> that.


On Wed, 25 Jul 2012, David Bruant wrote:
> If the WHATWG continue to work in ways that we know (including codifying de
> facto standards to preserve content backward compatibility), then no matter
> what browsers will to do (follow one spec or several or none), the end result
> is that the WHATWG will codify what works.

Right. That's the goal, anyway!

> As an example, they spec'ed innerHTML which was first implemented in IE 
> (and followed by all others) which isn't part of the WHATWG. There are 
> probably dozens of these examples.

The drag and drop model is another example, indeed.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:25:13 UTC

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