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RE: Versioning and HTML -- CR exit criteria

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 05:51:04 -0700
To: "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8B62A039C620904E92F1233570534C9B0118CD6A7DA8@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>
This is a little off-topic from "versioning and HTML" except
for the assertion that once HTML exits CR, no incompatible
changes will ever be necessary.

IF there are two implementations that are actually built
from reading the spec itself, and the implementations interoperate, then
you have some confidence that the spec isn't incomprehensible and that
it is actually possible to build SOMETHING interoperable based on it.

The process assumes that the assertions that the implementations in 
fact match the specification are made in good faith. Unfortunately,
this isn't always the case. 

Many specifications unfortunately are completely incomprehensible,
and the CR exit criteria doesn't explicitly require that the 
implementations weren't built using inside knowledge and the
spec written after the fact.

Even if the implementations are written based on the specification
rather than the other way around, there is no process for verifying
that they match. Test cases, even if results are reported honestly,
only verify implementation of the test cases and not of the

Having only two implementations is hardly a guarantee of the
utility of the specification for wide applicability.  Surely
only two implementations aren't a guarantee that the considerations
of the wide variety of devices, operating systems, usability
concerns, international contexts, networking situations have
really been considered, even for the simplest of specifications.

As noted earlier, even if there are many implementations, all
built based on the specifications, over time requirements change,
and changing requirements might require incompatible changes.

It is never possible to " ensure that problems with defining 
behavior incorrectly for the long term are all caught."

Received on Tuesday, 28 April 2009 12:52:41 UTC

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