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Re: Design Principles

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 02:50:28 +0000 (UTC)
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Cc: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0905260239240.7824@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Tue, 26 May 2009, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> Ian Hickson On 09-05-26 00.19:
> > On Mon, 25 May 2009, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> >   
> > > Because, as I said, it is isn't useful to convince me about anything 
> > > that you tell me that you have looked at it from scratch. The "from 
> > > scratch" principle would in itself need to be defined, btw.
> > 
> > We didn't start from scratch because of a design principle, we started 
> > from scratch because we had no other practical choice. HTML4 is 
> > woefully inadequate as a specification and it was simply easier to 
> > ignore it.
> Except for the thing that "from scratch" is only a theory about your own 
> work: It was easier to ignore it. So you had a choice. You did not have 
> to ignore it. I agree with that. Now the HTML 5 work is part of the 
> organisation that defined HTML 4, and which thus do not ignore it.

It's certainly true that some people aren't ignoring HTML4, but IMHO 
arguments that invoke HTML4 as a reason for doing something in HTML5 have 
close to no weight.

Note that I don't think this is particularly unusual. Arguments that 
invoke HTML5 as a reason for doing something in HTML5 are similarly 
weightless (except for self-consistency arguments). This is not limited to 
HTML; arguments that invoke CSS1 are more or less weightless when 
developing CSS2 or CSS3, for instance. The "real world", i.e. deployed 
implementations, implementation experience, legacy content, etc -- as 
described by the design principles in fact -- are orders of magnitude more 
important than anything else.

The same applies to other specs, much to some people's dismay; e.g. just 
because an RFC exists that defines a particular behaviour doesn't mean we 
should follow it. We should base our work on practical concerns and sound 
technical reasoning, not on what specs exist. (Thus, e.g., RDFa existing 
is not an argument for reusing it, it needs to be technically sound also. 
Similarly, there being an RFC that obsoletes text/javascript is not an 
argument for not using it.)

This is the approach I have taken, and intend to continue taking, in 
editing the HTML5 specification, so long as this working group continues 
to allow me to edit it. I believe technical soundness and practical 
usefulness is more important than theoretical purity and consistency with 
other specifications.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 02:51:09 UTC

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