W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > April 2000

Re: Friendly Specs (was Re: Modularization of XHTML B.3.4.2)

From: Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com>
Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2000 14:41:01 -0400
Message-Id: <200004091839.OAA29804@hesketh.net>
To: "Ashvil" <ashvil@i3connect.com>, <www-html@w3.org>, "Susan Lesch" <lesch@w3.org>
At 09:52 AM 4/9/00 -0700, Ashvil wrote:
>[Good criticisms, good examples.]

>In the end, it comes down to who the target audience is for the spec. Is it
>only the theoretical CS guys ? Or should this list include web developers
>(who don't understand what a DTD is), browser/application developers which
>now includes kids trying to patch/fix bugs in Mozilla and other open source
>applications, etc.

If the spec is only for software developers, it limits both the usefulness
of the spec and the range of people who can comment on the spec.  From my
perspective, more eyes on specs is a good thing, helping to root out
inconsistencies and bugs.

>Examples do increase the size of the spec, but the advantages of getting
>more folks in the loop at an early stage is good. If all the web developers
>would be a more integral part of the development process, this would lead to
>a stronger, more standards based web.[We could use a more interactive
>document where parts of the document get hidden/displayed based on user
>requests]

I think this point about the usefulness of examples is critical.  By
showing as well as describing, the spec designers have to run their work
through a public demonstration and make it accessible to a larger audience.
 At the same time, a "no-examples stylesheet" might be a good idea for the
impatient.

>Finally, I think the W3C is going in the right direction with some of the
>specs. It needs to extend this 'innovation' to other working groups.

That's right.  It's pretty wildly uneven.  XLink suddenly bloomed into a
readable spec a few months ago.  The core of the schemas work is pretty
nearly impenetrable, but the Primer on the front of it helps.  

I'd love to see a base set of principles established for W3C specs
identifying who they're for and what specs are supposed to accomplish,
preferably one that extends that value of W3C effort beyond a small core of
programmers.

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
Cookies / Sharing Bandwidth
http://www.simonstl.com
Received on Sunday, 9 April 2000 14:39:42 GMT

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