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Re: HTML5: clean and non-clean

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2008 05:19:42 -0400
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Message-ID: <OF9280A7FA.A645FE93-ON852574EA.0026F25B-852574EA.00333F70@lotus.com>

Henri Sivonen wrote:

> In reference to:
> http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/2008/09/23-minutes
> The minuted discussion mentions "clean" and "not-clean" several times 
> and separating them.
> What kind the of separation was meant in the discussion?

I apologize for the delay in replying to this.  In any case, I've had some 
chats with Ian at the Technical Plenary, and these have helped me to 
clarify what my concerns are.  While I expect Ian is not prepared to 
endorse my suggestions at this point, or not all aspects of them in any 
case, he encouraged me to set them down for the record in a note to the 
public-html-comments list, and I have done so at [1].  To directly answer 
your question, Henri, the kind of separation I meant in the TAG's 
discussion is the one suggested in [1].

I understand that to some extent there is already an intention to produce 
a separate "Authoring Specification" that is somewhat similar to what I 
propose, and I'm glad that's being considered.  I would prefer that such a 
specification be viewed not as an "authoring specification" but as "The 
HTML 5 Language Specification", I.e. a document that's of equal interest 
whether you are writing or reading an HTML 5 document.  It would allow you 
to answer two questions:  1) is this a legal HTML 5 document? and 2) if 
yes, what does this document mean?  If automatic extraction of the 
pertinent bits from the current drafts produces a first class exposition 
of such  language specification, that's great, but I have some suspicion 
that a far cleaner, smaller, and easier to read specification could be 
written either by hand, or by careful manual adaptation of the current 
work.   I do not expect that this specification would cover matters such 
as asynchronous execution of Javascript, or the intermediate states that a 
DOM goes through while, say, document.writes have inserted a start <tag> 
without yet the corresponding end </tag>;  those details would remain in 
the existing larger specification.

So, the net result of the proposed separation would be two documents:

1) The HTML 5 Language Specification (as proposed above)
2) The HTML 5 Browser Specification - this would provide essentially the 
information in the current drafts, except that unnecessary duplication 
with (1) would be avoided.  In particular, this specification would 
explain that many of the user agents used on the Web, informally the ones 
we consider to be full function browsers such as Firefox, IE, Opera, etc., 
provide (or aim to provide) compatible interoperation on inputs and 
runtime details that go beyond those described in the HTML 5 language 
specification.  This is the specification for building interoperable 
document interpretation and scripting functions in such browsers.  Of 
course, when a legal HTML 5 document is received, the browser behavior 
must be consistent with the language specification, and indeed the Browser 
Specification should point to the Language Specification for matters such 
as the semantics of particular tags.

Thank you.



Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 09:20:33 UTC

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