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RE: Versioning and HTML

From: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009 14:12:37 -0700
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
CC: "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <D12127075745E648BBC075EF46983E1744EA00B4C5@TK5-EXMBX-W603v.wingroup.windeploy.ntdev.microsoft.com>
I think we're talking at cross-purposes.  I am not, in this thread, suggesting versioning in the language to solve any particular problem.  In fact, if you go back to my initial mail, I was 1) pointing out that the CR stage won't resolve problems with defining behavior incorrectly for the long term, or even necessarily being definitive enough in behavior description, but 2) noting that a bigger, but related problem, is that vendors shipping their implementations of in-progress specificiations, and then using incompatibilities with shipped implementations as a reasoning for not fixing their behavior, is a problem.  I said that the only way out of this particular problem appears to be to ask all vendors to prefix their non-CR'ed features, so that we don't cycle around with this problem.  Nothing excuses Microsoft from this issue; I didn't say that explicitly, but I would hope it was implied.

In this thread, I've been referring to problems INSIDE one version of the spec (HTML in this case, presumable) - the language versioning need, in my opinion, is for the deltas BETWEEN two major versions of the language.  Our experience there (with multiple versions of large core standards at the heart of the web platform) is knowingly limited, particularly with HTML; there's really only been one version of HTML (4.01) in deployed practice in the past decade, and it did not define behavior in much detail.  HTML5 defines it much more carefully, of course, but the supposition that it will define everything, and define it correctly for the long term, has always struck me as presumptuous at best.  CSS2 defined behavior much more strictly than CSS1; that caused incompatibilities.  CSS 2.1 redefined some behaviors from CSS2; that caused incompatibilities too.  But at any rate, that wasn't the problem I was referring to in this thread.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hickson [mailto:ian@hixie.ch]
Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 12:30 PM
To: Chris Wilson
Cc: www-tag@w3.org WG
Subject: RE: Versioning and HTML

On Mon, 27 Apr 2009, Chris Wilson wrote:
> [...]

The discussion regarding pre-CR implementations is besides the point,
since versioning wouldn't help with that problem. There's no version of
HTML5 or Web Storage that ever included the features for which Microsoft
committed to using vendor prefixing [1] (despite not actually using it
when the product was finally shipped), so versioning wouldn't affect how
they work. There's similarly no version of HTML5 or Web Storage that ever
included the behaviour IE8 implements [2] with respect to its handling of
concurrent script execution, so versioning wouldn't help with that either.

In practice, as I've said before, the actual cases where language
versioning would be a help at all are few and far between; IMHO they are
rare enough that it is a significantly better use of resources to route
around these problems on a case-by-case basis.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-comments/2008Jun/0020.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Mar/0574.html

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Monday, 27 April 2009 21:11:20 UTC

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