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Re: Friction and cross pollination

From: Noah Mendelsohn <nrm@arcanedomain.com>
Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2011 16:21:56 -0400
Message-ID: <4E99EB64.60209@arcanedomain.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
CC: "Michael.Champion@microsoft.com" <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>, Norm Walsh <ndw@nwalsh.com>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Without commenting on the merits of either Mike's or Larry's points, it may 
be worth observing that the two most recent and visible "task forces" 
instigate by the TAG are somewhat different in history and organization:

* The HTML/XML task force came into being as essentially an offshoot of the 
TAG. We had been studying the issue, had some (perhaps misplaced) optimism 
that getting the right mix of people together would yield insight not only 
into requirements and use cases (it did), but also into changes to 
specifications that might be suggested as input to the pertinent working 
groups (so far, not much good to report on that part). Anyway, Norm was 
kind enough to volunteer to pull it together, and it is proceeding toward 
finalizing a report.

* With respect to the perceived overlap between RDFa and Microdata, the TAG 
did two things: 1) it opened bugs against the pertinent draft 
specifications and 2) it suggested to the W3C that the W3C might form a 
task force. As I understand it, the W3C has responded by proposing that an 
initial round of analysis be done by a group hosted in the SWIG.

For what it's worth, I would very much like to have the option to continue 
to use at least the first model from time to time. There are many things 
the TAG is called upon to figure out where the elected/appointed membership 
of the TAG doesn't have the needed skills. Being able to call upon those 
who would volunteer their time is very helpful.

As to the second model, in which we suggest to the W3C the formation of a 
task force, I don't see the value of precluding ever doing such a thing, 
though I read Mike as suggesting that we should be careful, perhaps more 
careful, to do so only when we are optimistic that the community is really 
likely to benefit from the results.

That may well be good advice -- I (personally, not as TAG chair) do worry 
that the TAG sometimes proposes these task forces in situations where there 
is a reluctance to hear the community say: "yes, the current situation is 
suboptimal (e.g. two sets of specs in overlapping spaces), but no, it's 
unlikely that much is going to change with or without a task force".  Even 
then, doing an analysis can have some value. I'm disappointed that we 
haven't so far found ways to change either HTML or XML to bring them closer 
together, but I think the team led by Norm is producing an analysis that is 
very useful in pointing out what can be done with the specs as they are, 
and also in leaving tracks so that the same questions won't be repeatedly 
explored from scratch.


On 10/15/2011 4:05 PM, Larry Masinter wrote:
> Michael, to respond to your comment about creation of task forces:
>   First, the TAG can't really force the creation of a task force, it's a suggestion that requires commitment on the part of multiple parties. I see absolutely no reason why the TAG should not encourage them when they seem appropriate. If you're saying "don't create a task force until there are people who volunteer to participate", well, I thought we weren't, and maybe it's just the call for participation has been unclear about the expected outcome.
> The TAG doesn't have the bandwidth to address all of the architectural issues, and calling for other groups to be formed by the W3C is an appropriate role for the TAG. I reject the notion that "if you want it done you have to do it yourself".
> The "task forces" we've called for focus on situations where there are multiple specifications which seem incompatible and where even the analysis of workflows going from one to another aren't specified -- that seems like a good fodder for a task force.
>   What I'd looking for is a clear analysis of what the various use cases might be, of what the compatibility problems are, what workarounds may or may not apply, appropriate future directions.  Even if neither "side" budges a single bit about changing any specification whatsoever, it is still possible to make much better progress on at least understanding what the compatibility problems really are and what difficulties they cause.
> If along the way, there are some apparent changes to one or the other, or some additional infrastructure or developments that would improve the situation, that's great. But it's not criterial for success.
> In all of the cases where we have called for "Task forces" that I can think of, it is a situation where multiple groups or a single group are creating overlapping and incompatible specifications, usually where a "new" specification breaks an older one, but in a way where the breakage seems like it could be reduced, minimized, resolved, or that cross-workflows at least need to be analyzed and the difficulties described
> A specific, dedicated task force of responsible people who are actually interested in making progress -- seems perfectly appropriate. Your counter-proposal -- waiting until there is a ground-swell of interest in getting together -- is really giving up responsibility.  There are always skeptics. What are they skeptical about? That we could even understand the workflows? That we could even document the incompatibilities?
> Frankly, I don't see too many skeptics, what I see are people who just think the other side is going to wither up and go away, and that the task force gives attention to problems they'd just as soon sweep under the table.
> I think this goes for XML/XHTML/HTML, microdata/RDFa, and that we might need additional task forces, e.g., to look at canvas/SVG/CSS overlaps and incompatibilities.
> Larry
> --
> http://larry.masinter.net
> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Noah Mendelsohn
> Sent: Friday, October 14, 2011 11:31 AM
> To: www-tag@w3.org
> Cc: Mike Champion; Norm Walsh
> Subject: Fwd: Re: Friction and cross pollination
> Michael Champion posted this to the public-html-xml mailing list, but it includes some suggestions directed to the TAG, so I'm relaying it here.
> This is part of a larger thread focused mainly on what the draft report from the XML/HTML working group should say. Suggestion:
> * Discussion of the content of the report should remain on public-html-xml
> * Discussion of the general issue of having the TAG either create task forces, or suggest that the W3C create them, should be held mainly here on www-tag@w3.org.
> OK? Thank you.
> Noah
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: Friction and cross pollination
> Resent-Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2011 16:22:59 +0000
> Resent-From: public-html-xml@w3.org
> Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2011 16:22:27 +0000
> From: Michael Champion<Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>
> To: Robin Berjon<robin@berjon.com>, Henri Sivonen<hsivonen@iki.fi>
> CC: public-html-xml@w3.org<public-html-xml@w3.org>
>> All of these paths are work for other groups, new (community) groups,
>> or even just open source projects.
> Exactly.  Let's declare victory on this task force report, and suggest that people who have been inspired by the discussions here but couldn't build consensus for their additional ideas take them to Community Groups or some other appropriate venue.
> Editorializing a bit Š I think it's time to retire the pattern of the TAG causing the creation of Task Forces to dig deep into topics that interest them but they don't have the bandwidth to pursue.  Instead, those people in the TAG or Team or wider community who see an unmet need or envision a better solution should propose a community group, see if there is critical mass to explore the idea, and if the group comes up with a compelling solution THEN propose it to a WG to standardize.  That will reduce the number of as-yet unsolvable problems that get put into TF or WG charters while giving the people with the vision and determination to solve them anyway a place to do so (or not) unimpeded by the skeptics.
> On 10/14/11 2:03 AM, "Robin Berjon"<robin@berjon.com>  wrote:
>> On Oct 13, 2011, at 19:01 , Henri Sivonen wrote:
>>> On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM, Robin Berjon<robin@berjon.com>  wrote:
>>>> A suggested list of such smaller projects, which may or may not
>>>> proliferate best in a standards setting, could for instance include:
>>> I'm uncomfortable with naming smaller projects that the TF hasn't
>>> discussed previously when the Report is almost ready to be published.
>> They are really just meant to be suggestions, definitely not endorsements.
>>>>     € Defining an XSLT and XQuery serialisation for polyglot HTML.
>>>> Usage: make it trivial to produce it with a regular XML tool chain.
>>>> [ed. I thought that this had been done, but I can't seem to find it
>>>> anywhere]
>>> I think it makes sense to have a new HTML5-aware HTML output method
>>> for XSLT, but I think making it polyglot would be an unfortunate
>>> distraction. You can't serialize the text content of HTML script and
>>> style element polyglottally in the general case, but it would be
>>> silly not to support the output of text content of HTML script and
>>> style elements when the text content can be serialized as either HTML
>>> or as X(HT)ML.
>> Sure, I certainly don't think that it's worth trying too hard. But HTML
>> output can be improved, and polyglot is likely a good source of
>> inspiration.
>>>>     € Help define an improved, more interoperable, and more usable
>>>> version of DOM level 3 XPath for use from Javascript inside an HTML
>>>> document. Usage: a number of queries (e.g. for text nodes, or certain
>>>> axes) are impossible to achieve with the Selectors API, but using DOM
>>>> level 3 XPath is unwieldy at best.
>>> How would a new API be more interoperable than the API that multiple
>>> vendors already support? Also, big rathole warning about XPath
>>> versions.
>> See the discussion on WebApps about how consecutive text nodes are
>> returned.
>>>>     € CSS Fragment IDs based on XPointer as described in
>>>> http://simonstl.com/articles/cssFragID.html. Usage: links that target
>>>> fragments more powerfully, in a manner that browsers understand
>>>> (http://open.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/emphasis-update-and-source/
>>>> is a good example).
>>> Seems out of scope for this TF.
>> [several times]
>> All of these ideas are completely out of scope for this TF: we do not
>> have the remit to produce a Rec-track document anyway. All of these
>> paths are work for other groups, new (community) groups, or even just
>> open source projects.
>> --
>> Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/ - @robinberjon
Received on Saturday, 15 October 2011 20:22:24 UTC

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