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Re: An HTML language specification

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2008 12:14:51 +0200
Cc: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, www-tag@w3.org
Message-Id: <4678522A-D8E9-4F2A-BA66-91E7CBE518B4@iki.fi>
To: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>

On Nov 16, 2008, at 11:47, James Graham wrote:

> I am wary of any attempt to create a second, normative, document  
> aimed only at authors. Every time there is more than one  
> "definitive" source for the same information there is the  
> possibility of conflicts, leading to confusion. However, as the  
> example above shows, there is much that is of importance both to  
> implementors and to authors in the spec and performing a full  
> separation is impractical. Moreover any normative language spec  
> would, on account of the need for normative levels of precision,  
> still only appeal to language lawyer types. The set of people  
> interested in such an inapproachable document but uninterested in  
> any aspect of UA behavior seems to me to be small (although I  
> suggest that many such people would be involved with the W3C, so we  
> might have a selection bias affecting our priorities here). Ordinary  
> authors are considerably more likely to be interested in a human- 
> friendly, informative, authoring guide with links to the appropriate  
> normative text for cases where precision and authority are needed. I  
> believe such a guide is already being worked on.

I agree. However, I do think "HTML: The Markup Language" is a useful  
document--at least for language lawyer types. Instead of  
characterizing it as a normative "language spec", I think it would be  
better to characterize it as an informative HTML5 reference for  
document producers and to make clear that instead of being a normative  
source document, it combines content from from the normative spec and  
from particular implementations.

I wonder if normativeness of the "language spec" is an essential part  
of the TAG members' and Mark Baker's concern. That is, would an  
informative reference document for producer-side language lawyers  
address their concern?

Henri Sivonen
Received on Sunday, 16 November 2008 10:15:33 UTC

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