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Concurrent Coding (was: Moving past last call for HTML5)

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 18:34:51 -0500
Message-ID: <49A4841B.5030908@w3.org>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, www-archive@w3.org
Hi, Ian-

Ian Hickson wrote (on 2/20/09 5:14 PM):
> On Fri, 20 Feb 2009, Sam Ruby wrote:
>> At the IETF, there is a mantra of "rough consensus and running code". As 
>> I read your proposed milestones, I see Last Call first preceding running 
>> code in a number of instances.  Am I misreading this?
> No, that's correct. The W3C model is that running code is only expected 
> after entering the CR phase. That we have any code at all at this very 
> early stage (in W3C terms) is actually quite unusual.

Not that unusual, actually.  Microsoft shipped an XSLT implementation in
IE5 while XSLT was still a WD. Adobe was shipping SVG 1.2 code in its
public beta of their SVG viewer (and much of it was coded into Batik).
In both those cases, the spec changed out from under the
implementations, so it's a cautionary tale.

On the other hand, there are success stories, too.  Experimental
features from browser vendors are continually working their way into
CSS.  Much of SVG Tiny 1.2 was implemented before we got to CR.  In the
case of SVG Tiny 1.2, that implementation experience was really valuable
in shaping the spec before, and during, CR; changes were made to the
spec (and to the implementations) as a result, and it was better for it,
even though we had to go back to LC.

Some folks characterize W3C as too academic in its approach, and I'm
sure that there are times and places where that's the case, but just as
often, the stuff that makes it into specs is already coded, or is based
on related implementation experience.  The trick is that that experience
needs to be folded back into the spec in real time, not isolated in an
implementation, and the implementor needs to be willing to change their

It sounds like there is good duplex communication with browser vendors
in the case of HTML5, and even some effective communication with the
content-creator community (largely through browser vendors, perhaps?),
so I trust that that aspect of HTML5 is worky.  But that balance should
be carefully maintained.

-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, SVG and WebApps WGs
Received on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 23:35:01 UTC

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