Public Specifications: [was: a bad idea]

Murray Altheim (
Wed, 10 Jul 1996 18:05:53 -0500

Message-Id: <v02110108ae09dc8715e6@[]>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 18:05:53 -0500
To: Jim Taylor <>
From: (Murray Altheim)
Subject: Public Specifications: [was: a bad idea]

Jim Taylor <> writes:
>>>> Erik Aronesty <> 07/10/96 06:08am >>>
>Would it be difficult to make a DTD for something like this.....
>VARNAME=X2 ..........
>That way any tag can have multiple choices for variables, with an
>optional picking mechanism
>It's not such a bad idea, which must be why both Ron Schnell and I
>proposed similar ideas (check the archives for "Proposal: New Anchor
>Attributes" and "Alternate Source Tags?"). Ron's supposedly working up
>an official proposal (how's it coming, Ron?). Your ideas of extending it to
>cover other choices such as fonts and allowing the user to make the
>selection have merit and perhaps should be included in the proposal.

In what context does "official proposal" have any meaning? You're not
dealing here with the IETF (as discussion in, where an
Internet Draft has a recognized process and procedure for public discussion
and action. W3C has no formal or even informal public process (nor has
there been any public discussion of creating one that I'm aware of), and
given that W3C members pay a great deal of money to influence design
decisions, I don't see any reason why they should do so. When HTML
development was still a public process, this forum might have had real
relevance. I don't see that now.

If there is a continuing desire for a public specification for HTML, using
a vendor consortium-sponsored listserver for that makes about as much sense
as having this same conversation in a coffee shop. The developers *might*
be listening, but they might be in a different coffee shop, or paying
attention to the conversations at their table. And note that they're not
being paid to listen to you.

There's only one public specification for HTML that I'm aware of, and
that's with the IETF. If the public believes that vendors do and will
control HTML development, then the IETF process is irrelevant. I personally
don't believe that to be the case. There MUST be some
combination/collaboration/compromise between vendors and the public. The
needs of the two overlap, but are not the same. The perception of what
sells is not necessarily what the public needs for content expression.

You really ought to consider pushing the IETF to close the current HTML
working group, and reopen a new group with a new charter and purpose that
includes your design ideas. This whole forum often seems to sound like part
of the design process for HTML, when I don't see any evidence of this being
so. Feedback on W3C specs maybe, but design, no.


     Murray Altheim, Program Manager
     Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
     email: <>
     http:  <>