W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2003

Re: XBL is (mostly) W3C redundant, and CSS is wrong W3C layer for semantic behavior *markup

From: Shelby Moore <shelby@coolpage.com>
Date: Sun, 05 Jan 2003 01:58:19 -0600
Message-Id: <4.1.20030105003607.018f4440(null)>
To: Sandy Moss <sandylmoss@yahoo.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org

Nice to see there is someone of the opposite sex in this list.

My replies are late tonight as I was at dinner and extended meeting.  It took
me some time to compose this reply because of the references I have cited (at
bottom) way back into thread.

Sandy why are you using a @yahoo email address?  Could you please provide us
with an email address at your "Fortune 500" corporation to prove that you are
not just one of the other people in the list, acting under disguise of free
email?  I use my work email address here.  You can send it to me in private if
you are concerned about spam and I report to the list once I have verified you
are not an imposter.

At 10:00 PM 1/4/2003 -0800, Sandy Moss wrote:

>We eventually came to agree, after weeks of study and
>consultations with some renowned experts (not Tim
>Berners-Lee, but some of his associates), that the
>issue of semantics is /not/ orthgonal to the issue of
>  We have normative and indeed
>axiomatic evidence of this:
>1. Tim Berners-Lee has stated, in no uncertain terms,
>that the semantics of a specification should not and
>indeed _cannot_ be orthgonal to the implementation. 

Of course this is true and I emphatically agree.  This is what I have been
arguing for.  Thanks for supporting my argument.

Semantics is controlled by implementation (not orthogonal).  I agree with that.

Semantics is defined by specification.  Definition and control are two
different phenomena.  As I said, it is similar to the difference between what
*IS* (control) and what we *WANT* (definition). 

I finally got Ian to agree that specification does not _control_ semantics[1]. 
Only implementation can control semantics.  I've been writing that since very
early in this thread.

What you have written above is completely consistent with my position.

Interestingly note that if semantics is not orthogonal to implementation (as
you assert above and I agree), then Ian was incorrect to state that newly
implemented tags have no meaning[3] [4].  Ian wrote that on thread #45, and
yours was thread #84, so that is  39 posts just to get someone to agree with me
that semantics is not orthogonal to implemention!!!  Imagine how happy I am to
see you agree with me!!!

Now we will proceed to your other points regarding conformance.

>2. If we assume for the sake of argument that
>semantics are _not_ completely controlled by

It is a fact that it is not (_some_ of time).  I am not referring to the moral
question or even whether it should be.  In reality, semantics is controlled by
the implementation.  Implementation is never in _perfect_ conformance with

Now we may have a goal (*WANT*) to get _perfect_ conformance.  But the reality
says we do not have _perfect_ conformance every where, all the time..

Tangentially, _perfect_ conformance is impossible, for the same reason it is
impossible to produce programs with zero bugs.

And the bigger point is that non-conformance will increase once you expose
implementation power for tags to authors and users.  That was my whole point
regarding XBL... (I will save that point for later so as to not confuse the
current discussion).

> then user agents would have at least
>partial normative control.  This would probably lead
>to the orthogonal (if not direct) deterioration of the
>web, which is equally inconceivable.

Note an error in your logic.  If semantics is not orthogonal to implementation
(as you assert above and I agree), and specification is not orthogonal to
semantics (per you implication that normative _control_ in UAs is
"inconceivable"), then this would mean that specification is not orthogonal to

We may desire for specification to be non-orthogonal to implementation, but the
reality is that implementation non-conformance exists.  Thus it follows that
semantics is (_some_ times) orthogonal to specification.  That is essentially
my Axiomatic Proof[2].

And the bigger point is that non-conformance will increase once you expose
implementation power for tags to authors and users.

>3. This is all tangential to the real issue at hand
>anyway, and that is: does XBL even change tag

Well if you remember Ian was arguing that it was impossible for XBL to change
semantics, as he argued that semantics is controlled by specification and not
by implementation[3] [4].  He is still arguing that [5], even though he agreed
it is not[1].  Ian is arguing both sides at the same time. :-)

So now that we can agree that semantics is not orthogonal to implementation
[sic], then we can proceed to the more relevant question of this thread.

We can proceed to answer the question of does XBL allow implementation changes
which can violate specifications.

>  Perhaps superficially, but a graphical
>comparison of the language to others (CSS, Delphi,
>etc.) reveals an axiomatic TSGR[1] of no more than

Please provide a link to basis and data for your TSGR analysis??

>  This would seem to indicate, unless anyone
>has a more normative source, that semantic
>metamorphosis in XBL is negligible at best.

I can not agree with this.  I need to see your data.

And also I can provide examples which show how to completely change the
"implemented meaning" of any tag in HTML using XBL implementation.  I will do
this only once we have agreed that if I can do that, then I will have proved my
argument.  I am not going to waste time otherwise.

>I have not seen anything on this list, other than some
>irrelevant opinions and other intangibles, that can
>emphatically refute any of the points above.

Careful with sweeping statements.  Read above.

>  While
>the existence of such proof is not inconceivable, it
>certainly hasn't been brought to this list's

See my Axiomatic Proof[2] which was posted before this post of yours.

-Shelby Moore

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0082.html
Ian wrote: "That is not the point I am contesting" regarding whether
"specification _completely_ controls semantics".

[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0073.html
(see bottom for "Axiomatic Proof") 

[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0045.html
Ian wrote: "And therefore those new tags have no semantics, no meaning."

[4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0054.html
Ian wrote: "That is correct." to reaffirm his statement in [3]

[5] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2003Jan/0082.html
Ian wrote: "Meaning is unrelated to what implementations should do"
Received on Sunday, 5 January 2003 02:57:45 UTC

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