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Re: some thoughts on objections to publishing ""HTML 5 differences from HTML 4"

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 05:14:54 +1000
Message-ID: <46855A2E.7060908@lachy.id.au>
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
CC: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>

Dan Connolly wrote:
> I note some objections to my proposal to publish the
> differences document.
>  http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/trdiff/results
> First, a "No, disagree" response says
> "Rationale based on design principles, for each and every
> dropped/added/changed element and attribute should be supplied."
> [...]
> "As per the Formal Objection Guidelines[2]I propose that the "HTML 5
> differences from HTML 4" document be modified to clearly indicate the
> rationales for dropping the attributes in question and their status as
> being open issues, both in "1.1. Open Issues" and in "3.6. Dropped
> Attributes" section."

I'd like to point out that asking for detailed rationale for every 
dropped, added and changed element and attribute is unrealistic, since 
the HTML5 spec isn't finished, and not all issues have been resolved yet.

The document represents the differences between HTML4 and the *current 
state* of the HTML5 spec.  We are all aware that the spec doesn't 
include some accessibility related features, and it is also clear that 
those issues are still open.  Providing rationale to explain why a 
feature has been omitted when the issue is still open and undecided, is 
just not possible.  As the spec evolves, elements and attributes will be 
added and removed, and the differences document should be kept in sync 
with the changes.

It is also questionable as to whether giving detailed rationale for 
decisions is in the scope of this document, which I believe should be an 
objective summary of the differences only.  In fact, keeping detailed 
rationale out of the document will help to keep the document more 
neutral and objective, particularly in the early stages of development. 
  Including rationale will very likely cause more objections, as people 
disagree with and debate the validity of the rationale.  I believe 
keeping the document neutral on all issues would be best.

By comparison, the following appendices in HTML4 and XHTML1.1 which list 
changes from previous versions, and the comparison of SGML and XML do 
not give rationale for the changes, they only describe what they are.


I suggest that the following text (or equivalent) be included as part of 
the status section:

   This document describes the differences between HTML 4.01 and the
   <em>current state</em> of HTML5.  The HTML5 specification is currently
   unstable and features may be added or removed at any time.  Future
   drafts of this document will be updated to reflect those changes as
   they occur.

I also recommend renaming the Dropped Elements and Dropped Attributes 
sections to Omitted Elements and Omitted Attributes, respectively. 
Dropped seems to give the wrong impression that the listed features will 
never be included in the spec, resulting in people asking for rationale, 
whereas omitted would make it more clear that it represents the current 
state of the spec.  Some of them may be included in the future.  You 
could also add a note to each of those sections stating that some of the 
features may be included in a future revision of HTML5.

Lachlan Hunt
Received on Friday, 29 June 2007 19:15:10 UTC

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