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Re[2]: section 1, intro, for review

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 23:46:07 +0100
Message-ID: <12972356203.20020318234607@w3.org>
To: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com
CC: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>, www-tag@w3.org
On Monday, 18 March, 2002, 23:00:30, noah wrote:

nuic> Mark Baker writes:

>>> I would prefer it if the special role of HTTP was at least alluded to.

nuic> This is a point which Mark and I have occasionally discussed  in private. 
nuic> No doubt, HTTP plays a distinguished role in the Web today and for the 
nuic> forseeable future.  Still (and I suspect Mark doesn't agree) I don't see 
nuic> why our architecture should imply that the web would diminished in quality 
nuic> if HTTP were eventually displaced by other protocols.  Indeed, I see this 
nuic> possibility of evolution as important to allow for changing applications, 
nuic> new hardware/software, and to enable access to more diverse sorts of 
nuic> resources over time.

Clearly.

nuic> If we didn't have universal  naming, there would be no web;  if the widely 
nuic> deployed protocols evolve over time, I think we're fine.   Thus, and I 
nuic> know this is controversial, I prefer a formulation in which the 
nuic> foundational web architecture is just URI's, with no particular protocols 
nuic> or schemes distinguished or preferred.

I agree with your first point but conclude that the second is too rigorous.

nuic> Whatever protocols we deploy at this or that point in time are to promote 
nuic> interoperability for access to  (representations of or information from) 
nuic> resources.  If the TAG wants to write a separate document on "Web 
nuic> architecture in 2002", I think http should indeed be identified there as 
nuic> playing a distinguished role.

I think this division into "unchanging web architecture" and "best
current practices" is a useful one, but the cutoff date from one to
the other is vague. Its possible to derive or extrapolate the former
from the latter, (and that is my preferred method of reality checking
top-down, theoretical approaches to architecture) but the period of
currency of best practice is uncertain.

For example, saying that markup should use XML, or XML 1.0,
or XML 1.0, or XML 1.0 SE have different periods of usefulness; but to
argue (which I don't think you are, but just to be sure) that there
should be no mention of XML in case it gets replaced in 20 years would
leave a minimal, and uselessly impractical, architecture.

So I am happy to note that <i>currently</i>, HTTP enjoys widespread
use; that new applications should use it rather than needlessly
inventing new protocols, etc. I agree this might change, but I would
not want to restrict it to a particular date range because we don't
know in advance what range that is.

There is also a practical point, the tension between innovation and
conservatism which penalizes moving too far in either direction; its
all very well to say that new protocols can be invented, and so they
can, but if every single document uses a new protocol we are in
trouble. Likewise if we were to force pop, smtp, irc etc to all use
HTTP. The useful balance point is to have a small selection of common
protocols and to invent new ones when necessary.

Which all seems self evident, I guess, but worth noting to guard
against the unlikely extreme of a top-down approach that either bans
all mention of HTTP, or alternatively mandates it everywhere.


-- 
 Chris                            mailto:chris@w3.org
Received on Monday, 18 March 2002 17:48:00 GMT

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