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Re: [Json] Response to Statement from W3C TAG

From: Allen Wirfs-Brock <allen@wirfs-brock.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2013 18:43:24 -0800
Cc: "es-discuss@mozilla.org list" <es-discuss@mozilla.org>, www-tag@w3.org, JSON WG <json@ietf.org>
Message-Id: <1E12FB6A-BD61-4E51-89E9-4398F943FF8F@wirfs-brock.com>
To: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>

On Dec 9, 2013, at 5:40 PM, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:

> * Allen Wirfs-Brock wrote:
>> This whole issue of the use of Syntax Diagrams rather than BNF is a 
>> stylist debate that is hard to take seriously. If TC39 informed you that 
>> we are converting the notation used in ECMA-404 to a BNF formalism would 
>> that end the objections  to normatively referencing  ECMA-404 from 
>> 4627bis?  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't.
> 
> If TC39 said ECMA-404 is going to be replaced by a verbatim copy of the
> ABNF grammar in draft-ietf-json-rfc4627bis-08 with pretty much no other
> discussion of JSON and a clear indication that future editions will not
> add such discussion, and will not change the grammar without IETF con-
> sensus, I would be willing to entertain the idea of making ECMA-404 a
> normative reference.

Note that ECMA-404 already says (in the introduction):

"It is expected that other standards will refer to this one, strictly adhering to the JSON text format, while imposing restrictions on various encoding details. Such standards may require specific behaviours. JSON itself specifies no behaviour.

Because it is so simple, it is not expected that the JSON grammar will ever change. This gives JSON, as a foundational notation, tremendous stability."

The second paragraph is speaking about the language described by the grammar, not the actual formalism used to express the grammar. I'm quite sure that there is no interest at all within TC39 to ever change the actual JSON language.  If you are looking for some sort of contractual commitment from ECMA, I suspect you are wasting your time. Does the IETF make such commitments?

TC39 is a consensus based organization so I can't make commitments for it or the ECMA-404 project editor. But,  let me quote two previous statements I've made on this thread concerning the grammar notation:

"It's silly to be squabbling over such a notational issues and counter-productive if such squabbles results multiple different normative standards for the same language/format. TC39 would likely be receptive to a request to add to ECMA-404 an informative annex with a BNF grammar for JSON (even ABNF, even though it isn't TC39's normal BNF conventions). Asking is likely to produce better results than throwing stones."

"The position stated by TC39 that ECMA-404 already exists as a normative specification of the JSON syntax and we have requested that RFC4627bis normatively reference it as such and that any restatement of ECMA-404 subject matter should be marked as informative.  We think that dueling normative specifications would be a bad thing. Seeing that the form of expression used by ECMA-404 seems to be a issue for some JSON WG participants I have suggested that TC39 could probably be convinced to revise ECMA-404 to include a BNF style formalism for the syntax.  If there is interest in this alternative I'd be happy to champion it within TC39."

This doesn't mean that TC39 would necessarily agree to eliminate the Syntax Diagrams,  or that we wouldn't carefully audit any grammar contribution to make sure that it is describing the same language.  There may also be minor issues that need to be resolved. But we seem to agree that we already are both accurately describing the same language so this is really about notational agreement.

> 
> How soon would TC39 be able to make such a decision and publish a re-
> vised edition of ECMA-404 as described above?

As a base line, ECMA-404 was created in less than a week.  It takes a couple months to push through a letter ballot to above a revised standard. 

Allen
Received on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 02:44:00 UTC

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