Re: Formal definition of HTML5 (was Re: Version information)

On 17. apr. 2007, at 02.47, Ian Hickson wrote:

>> I'm not sure what you mean here. If the situation with the  
>> browsers is a
>> chaotic one where people are wasting time, we don't want to repeat  
>> that
>> in web applications.
> I don't think that your description is a bad thing. A "chaotic  
> situation
> in which a lot of people will waste a lot of time" is how software
> development in a healthy industry works.

Maybe this is how a healthy browser industry should work. I think the  
web developing community is better served with a stable foundation  
(see below).

> You get a lot of implementations,
> which acts both to incent competitive behaviour, and thus higher  
> quality
> implementations, as well as to repeatedly test that the  
> specification is
> correct.

The correctness of a standard has (at least) two aspects:

1. That we have made the correct decisions regarding what we want to  
express in the standard. - I can see how competing browser  
implementations could contribute to this, but I don't see how  
competing schemas can.

2. That these decisions are expressed as correctly as possible in the  
standard. Maybe different strategies towards this type of correctness  
is the reason why we reach different conclusions on this point. My  
primary strategy would be to achieve precision by utilizing formal,  
conceptual tools like formal grammars etc. Your approach seems to be  
to rely less on formal frameworks and more on continuous improvement  
based on input from external competing formalizations.

> Having a single implementation -- worse, one run by committee --
> encourages stagnation. We have evidence of this already: HTML4  
> basically
> never saw any serious work on conformance checking, most conformance
> checkers did little more than DTD validation, which (as I pointed  
> out) is
> ridiculously inadequate. With HTML5, we don't have a formal schema,  
> the
> spec isn't even remotely complete, and we already have someone  
> writing a
> conformance checker that's more detailed than HTML4 ever had.

I think this is a question about at which level we want to stabilize  
things. Development at one level is based on stability (or stagnation  
if you like) at another. Thats why we have standards. As a web  
developer I will appreciate having one common official schema run by  
a committee rather than having to choose between (and judge the  
quality of) several competing schemas.

Received on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 08:52:39 UTC