W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > May 2007

Re: Cleaning House

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 13:53:18 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-html@w3.org
cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.64.0705031328090.12343@hopeatilhi.cs.tut.fi>

On Thu, 3 May 2007, Dave Raggett wrote:

> If the spec needs to be so tightly intercoupled that modularity isn't 
> feasible then we are in deep trouble as this is likely to make it hard to 
> spot detailed problems and will also take much longer to reach Recommendation 
> status.

Quite possibly. There is more work in developing a markup language than in 
developing a collection of tag sall...sets, simply because a language 
needs to be balanced, expressive enough as a whole, and with compatible 

On the other hand, modularization doesn't seem to have solved the speed 
problem. What happened to modularized XHTML and modularized CSS ("CSS 3")?

> I am however convinced that HTML can be specified in a more modular fashion, 
> and that this would allow the hTML WG to prioritise and progress modules on a 
> much quicker basis than one giant spec. I am sure that many people would like 
> to see a sequence of modular W3C Recommendations coming out a regular 
> intervals rather than waiting many years for the big bang.

In my mind, I don't see a flow of modular W3C Recommendations, just a pile 
of drafts that fluctuate between working draft level and other levels 
below the W3C Recommendation level, though perhaps called "standards" and 
cited normatively.

I don't expect much to happen to HTML, no matter what XHTML or HTML 5 
drafts (and maybe, after many years and struggles, even candidate 
recommendations) will be issued. The idea of creating something that is 
"compatible" with existing bulk of markup _and_ with errors and 
idiosyncracies of browsers, yet extends HTML in essential ways, sounds 
remarkably unrealistic.

I think it's time to consider something new that does carry all the 
burdens of the past errors and flaws. Learning from the experience rather 
than being bound by it, we could now design a markup language suitable for 
the World Wide Web. We already have CSS, DOM, scripting, and other 
technologies that can be _associated_ with documents in a markup language 
rather than being built into it. Surely "the new HTML" would take a couple 
of years to become defined, implemented, and used, but you can compare 
this with the actual development of HTML: no progress worth mentioning 
ince 1998, except a slightly better implementation of some features in 
major browsers, but much confusion around irrelevant changes.

Meanwhile, browsers can keep supporting HTML as they have done for years. 
There is little progress to be expected, and little progress needed in 
that area.

Authors should _not_ be encouraged into converting existing HTML documents 
into HTML 4.01 Strict or XHTML 1.0 something or XHTML 1.1 or HTML 5. 
Instead, they can keep updating the content if there is need, and consider 
creating _new_ (and completely redesigned) pages using some more modern 
technology. It need not (and probably should not) have any technical 
connection with old HTML versions, and it should have a media type of its 

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Thursday, 3 May 2007 10:53:21 UTC

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