[Bug 8365] New: Remove the Web Browsers Section 6


           Summary: Remove the Web Browsers Section 6
           Product: HTML WG
           Version: unspecified
          Platform: Macintosh
        OS/Version: Mac System 9.x
            Status: NEW
          Severity: normal
          Priority: P2
         Component: HTML5 spec proposals
        AssignedTo: dave.null@w3.org
        ReportedBy: shelleyp@burningbird.net
         QAContact: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
                CC: ian@hixie.ch, mike@w3.org, public-html@w3.org

Currently the HTML5 specification contains a section, Section 6, devoted
specifically to browsers. The section also notes that though it is focused on
browsers, requirements in the section apply to all user agents, not just
browsers, unless otherwise noted.

Though browsers are a major user agent for HTML/XHTML, they are not the only
user agents. In particular, ebook technology is dependent on XHTML, and forms a
completely different class of user agents than browsers. In addition, there are
email applications that exist outside of browsers that also make use of
HTML/XHTML, in addition to some word processing software.

Though the section does provide a good reverse engineering of browser
technology, the section has little or nothing to do with HTML, in general. In
addition, it also has little to do with the Document Object Model, which is
based on the HTML syntax, not objects implemented by various browsers. 

Including this section greatly extends the HTML5 specification beyond the
charter, and beyond boundaries one can reasonably expect from an effort focused
on HTML, both the XML serialization and non-XML serialization, and the DOM. In
addition, by focusing the specification primarily towards browsers, we are
limiting the usefulness of the HTML specification for other uses, both now, and
in the future for ebooks, as well as other new technologies. 

This is counter to good, technology practices. Consider how a programmer
creates an application. They look for opportunities to create reusable objects,
which they then use to create any number of applications, not just one. We
should follow the same philosophy when creating a new version of HTML: restrict
our effort to a new version of HTML, its serialization in XML, and the DOM.
This will include new elements, such as video, which may not be useful for all
variations of user agents, but the concept behind the new elements still fits
within our perceptions of what we would reasonably expect from an HTML

Simplifying the HTML5 specification in this way will greatly increase its
usability by many user agents, not just browsers. A standardized BOM (Browser
Object Model) can reference the HTML, true, but so can other specifications,
such as ePub (for eBooks) and so on.

In addition, browser technology expands at a faster pace than that for the
underlying HTML specification. By separating Section 6 out, it can then be
incorporated into a new effort that can be focused specifically on the class of
user agents, browsers. This new effort won't then be dependent on the same
release cycle as HTML. 

I can see no negative ramifications from this change. Not only would it reduce
the boundaries of the HTML5 specification to those that that one would
reasonably expect, the separated section could then be used to seed a new, more
targeted effort. As there is work on an ePub specification, there could also be
work for the equivalent browser specification.

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Received on Tuesday, 24 November 2009 19:11:39 UTC