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Re: WebIDL Spec Status

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2014 17:50:00 +0000 (UTC)
To: Ryosuke Niwa <rniwa@apple.com>
cc: Domenic Denicola <domenic@domenicdenicola.com>, Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com>, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu>, WebApps WG <public-webapps@w3.org>
Message-ID: <alpine.DEB.2.00.1407021743410.9426@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>
On Wed, 2 Jul 2014, Ryosuke Niwa wrote:
> On Jul 2, 2014, at 9:26 AM, Domenic Denicola 
> <domenic@domenicdenicola.com> wrote:
> > From: Ryosuke Niwa <rniwa@apple.com>
> > 
> >> Snapshotting a specification is valuable for implementors as well.  
> >> If I refer to a living standard page, then fragment ID or terminology 
> >> used in the specification may change in 5-10 years, and I would have 
> >> no idea what kind of specification the person committed a given code 
> >> change was following.

Yeah, it can be useful to look at old revisions for historical reasons. 
That's nothing like the W3C REC process (or even WD process) though. It 
applies just as much to individual revisions between WDs (let alone RECs).

> > Off the top of my head, a good solution would be to produce URLs for 
> > every changeset, so that you can reference how the spec looked at a 
> > point in time.

For the WHATWG HTML spec (and maybe other WHATWG specs, I'm not sure), 
there is a copy of the generated spec in source control, which we could 
expose. I've been reluctant to do so to avoid people ending up on obsolete 
versions (e.g. by following links from old source code) and not realising 
what's going on.

> Just as an example, a hyperlink I got in Feb 2013 [1] to the WHATWG HTML 
> spec no longer works today.
> [1] http://whatwg.org/html#the-difference-between-the-field-type,-the-autofill-field-name,-and-the-input-modality

That specific one worked fine for me just now, FWIW.

> To me, Feb 2013 is not a long time ago and the fact I don't have an easy 
> way of figuring out what the specification looked like at the time, or 
> how it has changed since then is a serious problem since I don't have 
> the luxury of following every spec. change due to the time restraints.

If you need anything like this don't hesitate to reach out to me. I'm 
happy to provide old revisions, diffs, or whatever.

If you're looking for when something changed in HTML, this can be useful; 
it's a cached set of "blame" files for some interesting revisions:


You can also use anonymous SVN at svn.whatwg.org if you want to grab 
specific things directly yourself.

> There are other ways to mitigate these issues in addition to publishing 
> every revision of a given specification.  For example, spec authors 
> could list & support every historical terminology and fragmentation ever 
> introduced.  We could even create some service/database to map such 
> historical names to the new ones, explaining the difference.

That's a lot of work, and we already have more work than people. But as 
Tab said, we can probably do a better job of keeping old IDs around. I've 
definitely tried to do that more in recent years (though not perfectly), 
but there's a lot more that we could do. If you have any specific ideas, 
don't hesitate to let me know. (In particular, right now I'm working on a 
new publication pipeline for HTML and so I'm in a good position to add new 
features for this kind of thing.)

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Wednesday, 2 July 2014 17:50:30 UTC

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