Re: Proposal to Adopt HTML5

On Tue, 10 Apr 2007, Doug Schepers wrote:
> I'm curious what would happen if this proposal is not accepted.  Is this 
> an ultimatum on behalf of Mozilla, Apple, and Opera?  Do these 
> representative speak with the voices of their respective companies, or 
> are these individual opinions?

I can't speak for those companies, but I've already described what the 
WHATWG would do if the W3C didn't start from the WHATWG specs:

...namely, the WHATWG will continue to develop specifications, but the 
WHATWG specification will always be compatible with the W3C specification 
preventing any kind of divergence or "forking". (Well, subject to the W3C 
specification remaining relevant, obviously -- I mean, if the worst were 
to come to pass and this group went "off in the weeds", and was ignored by 
browser vendors, obviously being compatible with it then would not be in 
anyone's best interests).

>From a personal perspective I would continue to be an active participant 
in both groups regardless of whether work started from the WHATWG specs or 
not, I feel that being in both groups is the best way to help ensure 
convergence. (I've invited the chairs of this group to join the WHATWG 
list for similar reasons, though the lack of a WHATWG patent policy makes 
this understandably undesirable to them.)

> With the WHATWG specs as a starting point, though, I think that 
> everything should be up for discussion.

Whether the specs are adopted by the W3C or not, the WHATWG specs are 
always up for discussion. The WHATWG development model is based on 
openness, on accepting new ideas regardless of their provenance, on 
incorporating all feedback, etc. There are literally thousands of e-mails 
of feedback on the WHATWG specs that still need to be dealt with, they 
will be dealt with in due course. If I am to be editor of the W3C spec I 
would continue with this attitude; the spec becomming a W3C document 
wouldn't affect this in the least.

> Similarly, Ian Hickson has made public statements that he believes the 
> editor should have absolute control over the specification, rather than 
> operating on consensus.  Would he still be willing to assume this role 
> without this absolute power?

I think you have misunderstood what I have described. I have in fact 
always said that the editor should never have absolute power, and should 
always be answerable to a group with the power to override him.

In a group with hundreds of people, we can't take a vote on every issue, 
or have formal consensus on the grammar of every sentence in the spec. If 
I were to be editor, I would take everyone's input on every issue, and 
attempt to write the spec so that it addressed everyone's needs. Then we 
would iterate, with people commenting on the text, and me in due course 
going through all that feedback and addressing that. In the WHATWG I reply 
to all the e-mails on the subject after addressing them, giving the 
reasoning behind the decisions, so that people may better understand how 
their feedback was used, and, e.g., why it wasn't necessarily taken 
exactly as proposed.

In addition, I would feel it my responsibility as editor to also seek out 
feedback outside the working group, e.g. on blogs, in forums, in person 
with experts in the field, on various IRC networks, listening to industry 
podcasts, looking at real uses of the relevant technologies, trying to use 
the technologies, doing research into authoring trends, reverse 
engineering browsers, testing proposals, etc.

Of course, it is possible that with all my efforts, I still don't manage 
to make the majority happy. In this case, the group should, using the more 
time consuming consensus building methods, agree to override me. I leave 
it up to the chairs to organise how this would happen in this group. I 
would always decisions the chairs made, just like I would always respect 
any decisions that the WHATWG "members" make (a better description might 
be "steering committee"). So far the WHATWG members have never overridden 
me on anything, so I don't think this will come up much.

The above describes how I've been working in the WHATWG and how I would 
work in this group should I be chosen as editor.

On Tue, 10 Apr 2007, David Dailey wrote:
> b) WHATWG's origins were based in discontent with the W3C (as per its FAQ).
> That is a discontent I have no reason to share (being new to this sort of
> thing), but it does give cause for caution.

The discontent was merely that the W3C did not share our view that HTML 
should be developed and improved. The W3C does agree with us now, so the 
discontent is prsumably gone, and the WHATWG intends to work closely with 
the W3C as much as possible. In any case the discontent you speak of was 
not in any way affecting the work being done; the formation of the group 
was deemed a neccessity, it wasn't vengeance or anything.

> c) I share a bit of concern with the way that some of it has been 
> presented -- at times it has sounded a bit non-negotiable: sort of like 
> "If W3C doesn't approve it, then there will be two standards -- theirs 
> and ours."

Well, if the W3C doesn't use the WHATWG work, there will indeed be two 
specifications, but they will be compatible, as I noted above. This isn't 
an ultimatum; quite the opposite. I'm saying that even if the W3C doesn't 
want to directly use our work, we will still work closely to be 
compatible. It would help noone to have two incompatible specs.

> d) there are things in the WHATWG proposal that I remain unconvinced of 
> and would likely argue against should those discussions become 
> appropriate. I think line-item discussion must remain possible.

Of course. Such discussions would be welcomed whether or not this group 
accepts to work from the WHATWG drafts, in fact.

> e) there are numerous ideas that have surfaced in this group, since its 
> inception, which are not incorporated in WHATWG, and I am unclear of the 
> process by which that harmonization would occur. (again I suppose that 
> is why we have chairs)

I have already taken note of this feedback, and added it to the thousands 
of pieces of feedback that I still have to deal with with the WHATWG 
drafts. Up to this point I have mostly been working on adding text to 
reach a "feature complete" state; I have not yet begun dealing with 
feedback in earnest.

I should warn that if I am to be the editor of the HTML WG draft, I can't 
address every issue right away. I intend to address all input, but I can't 
promise anything about the _order_ in which input is addressed. Just 
because I don't reply to feedback straight away doesn't mean it is 
ignored. As I've mentioned, I already have thousands of e-mails of 
feedback to deal with, so everything in the spec is likely to already have 
had questions asked about it. Just because I haven't answered doesn't mean 
I think the spec should stay as it is.

> f) the argument that the WHATWG document is so extensively 
> interconnected that parts of it cannot be considered in isolation has 
> surfaced a couple of times. That seems to be an argument against a 
> document rather than for it to me.

The technologies are extensively interconnected, I don't know how the 
specification can't be.

> h) I'm still a bit skeptical of some of the "design principles." There 
> have been times that they have been invoked seemingly with a bit more 
> magic than logic, but as I've said "first principles" usually make me 
> nervous -- so this is maybe just a personal quirk of mine.

I would strongly recommend that the group nail down the design principles 
right away, regardless of what spec is adopted as a starting point. If you 
disagree with them, say so now, with clear arguments; don't leave it until 
someone uses one against you!

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Received on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 20:22:02 UTC