W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > November 2008

Re: An HTML language specification

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 22:24:09 +0000 (UTC)
To: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0811172217480.1237@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Mon, 17 Nov 2008, Mark Baker wrote:
> For a markup language, it defines the meaning of the elements and 
> attributes, and their composition.  e.g. it defines what "img" means, 
> and how "alt" affects that meaning.

IMHO this is a dated definition of the term "language". A language today 
must include its APIs. Relegating APIs to a second class citizen status 
leads to the kind of mess that we have with HTML4+DOM2HTML, and prevents 
features like <video> or <eventsource> from being developed.

> > Presumably you intend this set of sections to indicate a desire to 
> > exclude the DOM APIs from the language, but wouldn't that mean that 
> > SVG was also not a language specification? What makes SVG a language 
> > specification when HTML5 is not?
> Yes, I forgot SVG included a DOM, so shouldn't have mentioned it.

So two of the most important specifications that the W3C is producing 
aren't what you think should be produced?

> And just to be clear, both the current HTML 5 and SVG specs do include a 
> specification for a language.  They just also include a lot of other 
> stuff which isn't required for a language specification.

But it _is_ required for a _useful_ specification. Which is far more 

> > I should note that excluding the DOM APIs from HTML5 is really not an 
> > option. HTML4 and DOM2 HTML tried that and we ended up with a 
> > disaster: the APIs and the vocabulary aren't defined together, so 
> > features like <video> are effectively impossible to introduce; and the 
> > interaction of the declarative features, the DOM features, and the 
> > dynamic behavior (e.g. the behavior of navigating a browsing context) 
> > become incredibly hard to define if all three parts are in different 
> > documents.
> I can certainly see ample complexity in the interaction of DOM and 
> scripts/objects, but can't see how the declarative aspects would enter 
> into that complexity.

Just look at the definition of the form controls for instance. There's a 
tighter relationship between the declarative features and the dynamic 
features than between the declarative features and the syntax.

> > One of the biggest goals of HTML5 is to fix up the mess that was left 
> > from leaving things like Window and the navigation algorithm 
> > undefined. These are core to how HTML works. We can't leave those out.
> IMO, those are not core to how HTML works, they are core to how HTML 
> with scripts is processed by browsers, which is a very different thing.


At this point I don't really understand what you want. We're not changing 
the spec to remove the DOM parts, or splitting the spec into two along 
these lines, leastways not while I'm the editor. They are amongst the more 
critical parts of the language.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Monday, 17 November 2008 22:24:49 UTC

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