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Re: Who is the Intended Audience of the Markup Spec Proposal?

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 00:19:25 +0200
Cc: public-html WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <4C4EE4C5-AD19-431E-A43B-B6F7368B706F@iki.fi>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>

On Jan 27, 2009, at 17:12, Sam Ruby wrote:

> Additionally, there appear to be one or more participants who not  
> only don't wish to participate in such a discussion, they appear  
> eager to preemptively debate whether or not such a endeavor is a  
> worthwhile expenditure of time for the people who wish to pursue it.

If expenditure of time is a consideration, publishing two WDs about  
the same subarea of HTML5 with both claiming normativity, there's an  
increased expenditure of time on all parties who have an interest in  
reviewing the normative deliverables of the WG.

> If three or more independent and established participants of this  
> working group indicate that they would like to pursue such a  
> discussion, I would be inclined to recommend that the W3C produce a  
> new mailing list to be used as an outlet for this desire.  Any  
> moratoriums that exist on this mailing list would not carry forward  
> to that mailing list.

I find it peculiar to initiate discussion on publishing a draft while  
having a moratorium on discussing the elephant in the room that is  
highly relevant to the positioning of the draft. (To be clear, I'm not  
asking for the creation of any new mailing lists.)

Anyway, I still haven't clarified whether the opinion I expressed on  
last week's telecon is a formal objection.

I formally object to publishing "HTML 5: The Markup Language" as a  
First Public Working Draft that claims normativity. Making the draft  
not claim normativity would remove my formal objection. (For clarity:  
Where "HTML 5: The Markup Language" uses RFC 2119 keywords due to  
mechanically importing text from "HTML 5", I'm not asking these words  
to be modified. I'd be OK with the introduction saying that those  
parts are an informative redacted view to "HTML 5" which in turn uses  
RFC 2119 keywords.) My rationale is:

1) "HTML 5" already normatively defines the HTML5 markup language. It  
doesn't make sense for the working group to compete with itself by  
publishing two normative documents about the same to thing. (Resolving  
this by removing the overlap from "HTML 5" would not be an acceptable  
way to resolve this, since that would lead us back to bad old  
situation where the "language" and the processing model are in  
different specs with a risk of things falling through the cracks. I  
believe the "language" and the processing of the language should be  
designed and specified together.)

2) "HTML 5: The Markup Language" makes a schema normative. Experience  
with HTML4 shows that normative schemas freeze innovation and  
competition in validator development, because one implementation is  
declared normative and improvements on the implementation are  
considered wrong. For years, HTML4 validation wasn't improved at all  
from the accuracy OpenSP with normative DTDs gave. Validator.nu,  
Validome and Relaxed have now improved on things but are still seen as  
illegitimate compared to DTD-based HTML4 validation. If the document  
is frozen at a certain snapshot in time (as W3C TRs eventually are),  
validators either couldn't improve or would have to deviate from the  
normative schema at the risk of being perceived illegitimate. I  
believe this risk exists even if the schema is presented as a  
requirement floor on top of which validators are allowed to stricter.  
A schema is code--a part of a validator implementation. WGs don't make  
particular snapshots of C++ code normative, either.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Tuesday, 27 January 2009 22:20:07 UTC

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