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Re: FW: Request that "conforming document" be better defined and more carefully referenced

From: Michael(tm) Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 19:32:31 +0900
To: Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>
Cc: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, "noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com" <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Message-ID: <20100302103229.GB10645@sideshowbarker>
I've raised this in bugzilla as bug 9178:


Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, 2010-02-08 20:56 +0000:

> Forwarding to public-html@w3.org for review and comments.
> Paul Cotton, Microsoft Canada
> 17 Eleanor Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K2E 6A3
> Tel: (425) 705-9596 Fax: (425) 936-7329
> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com
> Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 6:25 PM
> To: public-html-comments@w3.org
> Cc: www-tag@w3.org
> Subject: Request that "conforming document" be better defined and more carefully referenced
> I hope you will consider this comment on the HTML 5 draft Recommendation.  
> This is a personal comment from me, and does not necessarily represent the 
> opinion of other TAG members or the TAG as a whole.
> Background
> ==========
> This comment is regarding the term "conforming document".  As you know, 
> the HTML 5 draft explicitly discusses [1] the conformance of Web browsers, 
> noninteractive agents, conformance checkers, etc.  I have found no similar 
> explicit definition of "conforming documents" or some similar term.
> At first I thought: can this be right? Is the idea that only conformance 
> of code is specified?  Then I looked further and noticed statements like:
>         "Authoring tools and markup generators must generate >conforming 
> documents<."
> However, the term "conforming documents" seems not to be explicitly 
> defined, and is in any case not hyperlinked from references like this.  I 
> think that's a problem that should be fixed.
> It seems to me that defining conformance for documents is one of the most 
> important purposes of this specification, and doing so is probably 
> essential if the spec is to be used as the basis of a media type 
> registration.  Quotes like the one above suggest that, in fact, it is the 
> intention that the term "conforming documents" be defined.
> Suggestions
> ===========
> I can think of a number of approaches, any of which would probably be 
> acceptable from my point of view.
> * Define one or more terms such as "conforming documents".  For each such 
> term, provide a definition sufficiently rigorous that one can determine 
> for any given string of characters (octet stream?) whether it is or is not 
> conforming.  If additional information is required to make that 
> determination, e.g. if conformance turns out to depend on something like 
> an externally specified character encoding, then say so, and indicate that 
> conformance for a document is relation defined on the combination 
> document_string+additional_info.
> * Hyperlink to each such definition from all suitable references elsewhere 
> in the document.
> Conformance terminology when "applicable specifications" define HTML 5 
> extensions
> =================================================================================
> I am probably going to make some comments on extensibility in general in 
> another note, but here it's worth briefly discussing the impact on 
> document conformance terminology.  I'll assume for the moment that, 
> informally, the intention of the current text is that additional 
> specifications can be written to augment HTML 5.  Let's take that as a 
> given.  Presumably, such "applicable specifications" can provide specific 
> meanings for additional markup;  maybe or maybe not they can also define 
> things like nonstandard DOM mappings for such additional constructs.
> Assuming I've got that right, it might be worth asking whether there 
> should be separate terminology for conformance of documents that use only 
> the features explicitly documented in HTML 5 (e.g. <p>, <table>, etc.) vs. 
> documents that also use extensions from some applicable specification 
> (<NoahsNewTag>).
> I don't actually have a strong opinion on which way you go with this, but 
> as things stand the spec is mushy in this area, I think your choice should 
> be unambiguous.  Some options appear to be:
> I. A single term, "conforming document", that includes documents using 
> extensions that are explicitly defined in some applicable specification. I 
> think this is closest to what you currently intend, but I confess I find 
> it a bit too tricky.
> II. Same as above, but apply the term "conforming document" to any syntax 
> that >could have been< defined in an applicable specification.  (I suspect 
> that there is some syntax, such as improperly nested tags, that you would 
> prohibit even applicable specifications from specifying -- you should make 
> clear what syntax and processing can and cannot be defined in such 
> extension specs I think).
> III. Two terms, perhaps "conforming: html5-only" would apply to to 
> documents that use >only< features explicitly documented in HTML 5, vs. 
> something like "conforming: html5-extended" for your choice of the first 
> two options.  Then you'd know that "html5-only" documents would be 
> universally interoperable, and "html5-extended" documents would depend on 
> extension support.
> IV. Encourage usage like: "conforming" for documents that use >only< 
> features explicitly documented in HTML 5 and "conforming to HTML 5 as 
> augmented by the XXXX and YYYY specifications" for documents that conform 
> to identified extension specs.
> For what it's worth, I think I like II. or II+IV best:  that is, when no 
> additional specifications are explicitly called out, all the syntax that 
> >could have< been defined by such an extension should be considered 
> conforming.  That way you don't consider a document broken just because 
> you can't name the spec that gave meaning to the new constructs.  Then you 
> can also adopt IV to allow people to explicitly call out conformance to 
> the combination of specs that have been used;  in this case, the semantics 
> (and perhaps specialized processing of) the extensions is part of the 
> conformance.  Calling out html5-only may have merit too.
> So, in a nutshell, I'm suggesting that all the terminology regarding 
> conformance of documents be made more explicit, and that the key terms be 
> hyperlinked.  Thank you!
> Noah
> [1] http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html#conformance-requirements
> --------------------------------------
> Noah Mendelsohn 
> IBM Corporation
> One Rogers Street
> Cambridge, MA 02142
> 1-617-693-4036
> --------------------------------------

Michael(tm) Smith
Received on Tuesday, 2 March 2010 10:32:38 UTC

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