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Re: ACTION-95, ISSUE-65: Plan to publish a new WD of HTML-5

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 11:59:33 -0500
Message-ID: <4981E075.3080204@mit.edu>
To: Karl Dubost <karl+w3c@la-grange.net>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Karl Dubost wrote:

> 2. About the First Public Working Draft, A working draft is a draft, has 
> a lot of issues, conflicts, etc. It's normal. It is also an attempt to 
> see if we can organize in a different way the technology.  I might be 
> wrong but the reactions I read from people being afraid of having 
> normative statements in HTML 5 Markup document seems to be fear of 
> losing control on HTML 5 original spec.

I think that sort of hits the nail on the head, in a sense.  From my 
point of view, it seems that the people who are insisting on having a 
separate normative spec and claiming that publishing without that is a 
non-option are hoping that this will lead to decreased attention on that 
text from some constituencies and increased attention from others, 
resulting in a power and control shift in terms of development of the 
HTML vocabulary.

Of course no one has come out and explicitly stated this as a goal.  I 
would be quite surprised if someone had, but that might be the cynic in 
me speaking.  It might even be a worthwhile goal; I reserve judgement on 

On the other hand, no one has replied to the "it's not clear what the 
reasoning behind having this first draft be normative is, so it sounds 
like there are ulterior motives that are not being disclosed" questions 
that were raised...  Those questions were basically trying to tiptoe 
about the above characterization of the situation, as far as I can tell.

So in the interests of short-circuiting what seems to me to be somewhat 
pointless discussion, I'd like it if people who think that my point of 
view above is incorrect would correct it.  That is, explain the 
insistence on creating multiple normative documents.  If my point of 
view above is in fact correct, I'd appreciate confirmation thereof; I 
won't hold it against you, I promise.  Either way, at least we'll all 
know where we stand and can have a productive discussion to resolve our 
differences, which should be clearer at that point, instead of wasting 
time on trying to guess where people are really coming from.

For the record, and in the spirit of the above, the control issue is of 
a lot less relevance to me than the issue of having UA behavior 
specified unambiguously.  Said unambiguous specification is really the 
sole reason for my participation in this process at the moment, since I 
don't have strong views on the direction the HTML language should evolve 
in.  In my experience with the W3C (mostly interaction with the HTML, 
CSS, SVG, and XML Linking working groups), as soon as there is more than 
  one normative document that applies to a given situation conflicts 
arise.  This happens even in the face of the best wishes of both parties 
to avoid conflicts, because what happens is that the two editors and the 
two groups of people working on the documents, don't have a single 
unified mental model that covers the intricacies of both specifications. 
  As a result, corner cases of all sorts end up quite problematic. 
Perhaps we won't have the working group fragment into such two separate 
constituencies, but I have my doubts about that (esp. since as I said 
above it seems that some would welcome such fragmentation).

In summary, I do think that having multiple normative documents covering 
the same ground in any sort of steady state is a bad idea no matter what 
our other goals are.  So if we head down that path I would like to see a 
plan, with explicit milestones, for leaving that path (that is, ending 
up with exactly one normative document covering any given part of HTML).

Received on Thursday, 29 January 2009 17:08:41 UTC

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