HTML5 proposal response

There has been a lot of discussion about the three-part HTML5 adoption proposal.  I would like to respond to it, since there's been a bunch of demand for both Microsoft and the chairs to respond.  Dan already did respond as chair and represented us both, but I wanted to give some insight into the "process".

I have had exactly one (email) conversation with Dan about this proposal, and one phone discussion back about a month ago about editorship.  Dan's response to Maciej yesterday afternoon reflected exactly the extent of those discussions - in fact, I think Maciej already knew how I felt about it, as I'd talked to him about it earlier this week privately.  I have not previously replied publicly, as I wanted to hear what others had to say before opening my mouth and coloring all future discussion.

1)  As both a co-chair and as Microsoft representative, I have no problem with taking the HTML5 spec from the WHATWG as the basis for the specification of the HTML WG, providing the IP provenance question is settled in detail (I just haven't done the work or looked at the list of names in the WHATWG - Ian told me it was covered, so I don't think it's hard), and especially provided that any feature or section being in that spec does not predispose it to being approved by the WG, or predisposes it to not be changed.  There are sections in this spec that are not (IMO) covered by our charter; there are also sections that I disagree with as Microsoft representative.  Regardless, my comment to Dan was that I thought it would be disservice if we were not to make use of the work of the WHATWG if we can.  I do feel very strongly, though, that if we are taking this as a source material for HTML in the HTML WG, then we must own the spec thereafter - this equates to take a drop from the WHATWG, and moving it into the W3C's domain.

2)  As both a co-chair and as a Microsoft representative, I believe my response to the ask that the HTML WG specification be called HTML 5 was "well, duh."  That is, of course.  Or, if you like, I have no strong opinion, but would expect people would expect math to come in to play.

3)  As a co-chair of this Working Group, I feel strongly that it would be a disservice to the integrity and openness of the spec to have a single editor (and I would point out that HTML 4.01 had three editors, and CSS 2.1 has four) - it sets up a dictatorship, benevolent though it might seem.  I additionally have a severe concern with the proposed mode of working that Ian has espoused [1] - that, in short, the HTML WG is just another source of input into the specification.  In my opinion, the HTML WG owns their own specification.  Multiple editors would help eliminate that problem.

I have tremendous respect for Ian Hickson.  That may sound hollow, but it's actually quite true - I can respect his viewpoints, because though I think he's overly idealistic, he has always proven to be principled, though I may on occasion disagree with those principles.  That is irrelevant.  I am not convinced that any single editor with any significant views on the issues can do a good job at being the sole owner of the spec.  The only times I've seen a sole editor for hotly-debated specifications work well has been when the editor is completely impassive, and simply a writer.  That is not Ian, in my opinion, and I would be a bit surprised if he said he has no opinions on what goes in to the spec.  That is not "Ian doesn't try to represent all viewpoints," it's "it is impossible to be completely equitable when you care about the issues."  I would be delighted, in any case, for Ian to be one of the editors of the HTML spec - indeed, I think it will be quite difficult if he is not.

As a Microsoft representative, I would object to having Ian as single editor as he is an employee of one of our largest competitors, and has not shown what I feel is due diligence to trying to understand our perspective.  That's about 1/100000th as important to me as the benevolent dictator problem.

As for selection of any potential co-editors, as co-chair and as Microsoft rep I have given no input or direction to Dan on potential co-editors, i.e. I have not asked anyone to be an editor nor suggested any names, other than to say the following to Dan in email re: lack of good candidates for editorship: "(I will resign as co-chair if necessary to supply one.)"  (No, impassive writer is not me either.  That is not my preferred role, but at least it would provide counterpoint.)  Dan failed to reply to that at all, which I would expect, as I don't think either one of us wants to be sole chair, and frankly I don't particularly want to be an editor either.



Received on Thursday, 19 April 2007 23:28:51 UTC