Re: Microsoft versioning proposal

Would Microsoft really freeze development, regardless of whatever bugs may
still exist, once a certain percentage of the web uses it?

On 4/18/07, Chris Wilson <> wrote:
> Anne van Kesteren []  wrote:
> >Do I understand it correctly that the following is your proposal for HTML
> >versioning:
> >
> >   1. Microsoft implements HTML5.
> >   2. Microsoft ships an IE release which triggers "HTML5-mode"
> >      when a page uses <!doctype html5>.
> >   3. Microsoft fixes bugs.
> >   4. When more than 0.5% of the content out there uses
> >      <!doctype html5> Microsoft stops fixing bugs.
> >   5. Back to step one incrementing the HTML version number by one.
> >
> >(Instead of <!doctype html5> some other identifier could have been used
> of
> >course, such as the suggested <!doctype html> or <!doctype html><html
> >version=5>, etc.)
> No.  That is a reflection of what I've said, but I think it twists the
> details.  Let me try again.  There are two things, an informative statement
> and a proposal.
> Informative statement(s):
>         Microsoft believes significant changes to adopted content carries
> with it great risk of damaging the user and developer experience by breaking
> current web applications and content.  This means, for example, that our
> current "standards mode", as used by roughly half the Top 200 sites, will
> not benefit from improved standards support.  Instead, web developers will
> have to opt in to improved standards compliance via some marker in their
> content, e.g. <!-- compatible with IE 8 -->.  This will opt developers in
> to improved standards support.  I believe this is unfortunately much more of
> a problem for IE than for other browsers, probably due to 1) more
> IE-specific content authoring in the past, and 2) authors expecting IE to be
> broken, and serving us different content.
>         Further, we cannot definitely state at this time that this would
> be the last opt-in.  As content markers become widely adopted, the risk of
> changes in that format become much greater.  It is quite possible we would
> have to say again "developers have to opt in to changes", e.g. <!--
> compatible with IE 9 -->.  There is no definitive percentage of adoption or
> other quantitative measure that uniformly controls this - this will be due
> to market pressures - and we (Microsoft) must remain in control of when we
> choose to offer/require additional opt-ins.  I find it distressing that
> other vendors consider protecting our users from breakage "vendor lock-in",
> without any seeming empathy with the fact that IE is offered different
> content today, that is not expecting standards behavior.  Yes, it is our own
> fault; no, that's not enough for me to break those users and developers.
>         We can, and will, automatically opt in content when the DOCTYPE or
> other HTML version marker tells us content is significantly "modern"
> enough.  For example, we would likely automatically opt HTML5 content in to
> our best standards-compliant mode when we ship  However, as per
> above, if HTML5 is widely enough adopted and needs to change in
> significantly breaking ways, we may require opting in.  Obviously, if
> subsequent HTML version markers are introduced in the standard, we will make
> them opt in to the best standards compliance in IE at the time.  We hope
> that the market changes over time such that the breakages are minor (perhaps
> because we start out being more standards-compliant) and therefore
> acceptable to make in-place with no opt-in; we do not believe this reflects
> today's reality.
>         We do not believe, at this time, that evangelizing a mode of "no,
> really, I know what I'm doing - always break me by adhering to the
> specification" is a realistic, market-appropriate tenet.  Our experience,
> particularly that of analyzing and working with the community on IE7
> "failures", is that many web developers are ignorant of what their current
> cargo-cult boilerplate (to use Ian's term that I really like) means or does,
> and consider any change to the behavior of their pages to be an error on the
> part of the browser.  A depressing number of them cannot immediately answer
> the question "is your content in quirks or standards mode?" for example;
> they simply copied and pasted something, and then tweaked it in IE to get it
> to work.  Explicitly, I can guarantee it would be a bad idea for us to say
> "<!DOCTYPE html> is always the best standards-compliant mode", because its
> brevity would mean it would be immediately used everywhere.  If we were to
> always opt some mode into "always standards," it would far more likely be
> something like
>         <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "I hereby swear I want great standards, even
> if my pages break">
> Or
>         <!-- compatible with standards - I will update this page to follow
> the standard -->
> In short - despite a contingent of the WG arguing they are "competent
> enough to make informed decisions for ourselves," our experience leads us to
> believe that such is not the case for a huge number of web authors.  And we
> do care about them.  Saying we have a "get out" clause does not help when a
> user is staring at a broken site, and an author is ignorantly blogging about
> the break and blaming it on IE's crappy standards implementation.  (Can you
> sense a little tiny bit of bitterness at all the times I had to follow up on
> issues like this in IE7?  :) )  Our responsibility to make the web continue
> to work (i.e. render) outweighs our personal responsibility (and I'm
> speaking of the IE team here, not our authoring tools) to educate web
> developer about proper use of the standards.
> Proposal:
>         Unrelated to the form and largely unrelated to the function of our
> UA-specific opt-in mechanisms, which we recognize we do not need sanction
> from the WG or any other standards body for, we believe it is foolish to
> identify HTML as simply "HTML" - without some form of provenance to identify
> what version of HTML the document author thought they were writing to.  It
> seems arrogant to suggest that HTML5 will be the last significant change to
> the standard.  Therefore, we propose that the identifier for HTML5 be:
>         <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "html5">
> that appears to be the shortest properly identifying string that
> triggers standards mode in all current browsers that support it.  This is,
> of course, presuming that the WG does not believe that DOCTYPE must adhere
> to the SGML DOCTYPE form.
> I think I'm done with this thread for a bit.
> -Chris

Received on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 01:17:38 UTC