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Re: Proposed requirement: don't break the Web

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2007 20:22:53 -0700
Message-Id: <79AB1DD3-2459-425A-A3E2-B433D01EEB63@apple.com>
Cc: "L. David Baron" <dbaron@dbaron.org>, public-html@w3.org
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>

On Mar 24, 2007, at 8:00 PM, Dan Connolly wrote:

> On Sat, 2007-03-24 at 15:35 -0700, L. David Baron wrote:
>> [ Although Dan's message asking for requirements [1] didn't
>> explicitly ask for requirements for things that already work, I'm
>> going to send a few (along with a few others).  I think there's
>> value in agreeing on what we want to keep working so that we
>> understand why we're not doing certain things. ]
>> Proposed requirement:
>>   New versions of HTML must not break significant numbers of Web
>>   pages.
> [...]
> This is pretty well justified, and several have chimed in to support
> it.
> My only quibble is that, as I mentioned earlier, I prefer to
> use the word "requirement" for things that are objectively
> verifiable. This looks more like a goal or an objective, to me.

It's true there isn't a bright line for "significant numbers". But it  
is possible to relate this to objective metrics through testing of  
early implementations, and searches of large corpuses of web  
documents. For instance, it is possible to see how often a proposed  
new tag name appears in existing documents. Or we can check whether  
popular JS libraries define something that conflicts with a proposed  
new method or property on the Window object.

David's proposed requirement partially operationalizes the following  
language from our charter:

- "This group will maintain and produce incremental revisions to the  
HTML specification"
- "The Group will define conformance and parsing requirements for  
'classic HTML', taking into account legacy implementations"
- "A language evolved from HTML4 for describing the semantics of  
documents and applications on the World Wide Web."
- "The HTML Working Group will actively pursue convergence with WHATWG"

It partly clarifies what "incremental revisions" are, in what sense  
we care about "legacy implementations", how our language will relate  
to existing "documents and applications in the World Wide Web", and  
how we align with some of the goals of WHATWG so that we can  
"actively pursue convergence".

Therefore I think we should adopt David's guidelines as a design  
principle, whether or not it is the kind of requirement you had in  
mind. Is this worth a formal vote?

Received on Sunday, 25 March 2007 03:23:14 GMT

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