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Re: Differences between the W3C and WHATWG specifications

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 10:36:47 -0400
Message-ID: <4C1B847F.4040204@intertwingly.net>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
On 06/18/2010 08:13 AM, Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Thu, 17 Jun 2010, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> Based on the above, we are requesting that you adopt our previously
>> proposed text as-is rather than debating this at length:
>>>> "The specification published by the WHATWG is not identical to
>>>> this specification. The main differences are that the WHATWG
>>>> version includes features not included in this W3C version: some
>>>> features have been omitted, but may be considered for future
>>>> revisions of HTML, beyond HTML5; and other features are omitted
>>>> because at the W3C they are published as separate
>>>> specifications."
> While I don't agree with the reasoning that led the chairs to suggest the
> above text, I don't have a problem with the text itself, so I've replaced
> the TR-version paragraph I had added before with the above paragraph. I
> made a few hopefully minor changes: I changed "the specification" to "the
> HTML specification" when referring to the WHATWG specification, since the
> WHATWG publishes four distinct specifications currently (this was not as
> much of a problem when the original text was written -- I've updated the
> non-TR paragraph with a similar fix); I removed a comma which was
> grammatically incorrect; I added the phrase "at the time of publication",
> to address a point raised by the chairs in the earlier e-mail on this
> thread (namely that the TR drafts don't change once published, so the
> paragraph might become incorrect without such a disclaimer); and I made
> the text use the past tense to fit with the use of the aforementioned
> phrase. I hope these changes are acceptable.


You also added a link.

These changes are acceptable to me, for the purposes of producing a 
Heartbeat draft, and I'm confident that they will be for both Paul and 


> Since this change removes the disclaimer regarding the likely prompt
> obsolescence of the TR drafts, I would like to encourage the chairs to
> seriously consider the point raised by Simon in this e-mail:
>     http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0456.html
> His point was also echoed by others, amongst which:
>     http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0451.html
>     http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0493.html

I don't believe that this should hold up the heartbeat publication of 
this round of drafts.

I will also note that at the very top of the document is a link to the 
latest editor's draft.

I believe that a crucial part of standards making is eliminating the 
possibility of objections whenever possible.  As it currently stands, 
the size of the HTML5 spec is daunting, and continues to change rapidly. 
  Not everybody is willing to review such a large and moving target. 
Providing stable snapshots eliminates this potential objection.

I encourage those that feel that this W3C policy is wrong in general to 
pursue this through their Advisory Committee member where possible. 
Those that feel strongly that this HTML5 itself is enough different to 
merit creating a special exception are free to make that case.

> I would also like to suggest that we should be more frank with the readers
> of the specification about the differences between the HTML WG HTML5
> specification and the WHATWG HTML specification, since we are chartered to
> persue convergence with that group. The current text, based on the text
> proposed by the chairs and quoted above, leaves the precise list of
> changes unstated. This is especially awkward (and not entirely without an
> appearance of a cover-up) because the paragraph immediately before this
> one says that the groups are "working together". I would be happy to
> either list the differences explicitly, or just link to another document
> which lists the differenes, whichever is most acceptable to the chairs.

I think we need to work more on working together.  Unfortunately, I do 
think that means some sort of period meeting, even if it is only via IRC.

As to "appearance of coverup", I do think we need more transparency.  I 
am particularly concerned about cases where no rationale was provided 
for a feature, so in the presence of objections, a decision was made to 
remove that feature (examples: ping, Atom conversion) and yet the 
content continues to appear in the WHATWG specification.

I also believe that any differences contained or referenced by the W3C 
document should be from a W3C perspective.  Examples: "The WHATWG 
document document inserts a piece of implementation advise that the W3C 
has chosen to forward for inclusion to UUAG instead.  The WHATWG 
document removes a reference to WCAG for... what reason exactly?"  I'm 
especially puzzled as that particular difference was not motivated by 
any WG decision.

Working to both reduce these differences and to annotate them more 
clearly in both documents is something we can and should work towards. 

But in any case, I don't want to end this note on a negative.  While 
there is clearly work to be done, this is good progress, for which I 
again thank you.

> Cheers,

- Sam Ruby
Received on Friday, 18 June 2010 14:37:19 UTC

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