[whatwg] some issues

C Williams yicky_yacky at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Jul 5 08:27:48 PDT 2004

> Matthew Raymond <mattraymond at earthlink.net wrote: 
> C Williams wrote:
> > 2.) You really should change the stylesheet and 'Working
> > Draft' image.
> [Snip.]
> Good point. I would like to volunteer to make a new
> stylesheet for WHAT WG specifications.

> > i.) [1.6. Conformance requirements]
> > "Documents that use the new features described in this
> > specification using XHTML or other XML languages over
> > HTTP must be served using an XML MIME type such as 
> > application/xml or application/xhtml+xml and must not be
> > served as text/html. [RFC3023] Documents served in this way 
> > *may contain a DOCTYPE if desired, but this is not 
> > required*."
> > 
> > Please see both [http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/#strict] and
> > [http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/conformance.html#strict],
> > specifically note [4] in both cases:
> > "*There must be a DOCTYPE declaration in the document*
> > prior to the root element. The public identifier included
> > in the DOCTYPE declaration must reference ... "
> > *Extending* a specification is one thing; rearranging it
> > for no apparent reason is something else.
> The mime type "text/html" is not appropriate for XHTML. The
> only reason it's even in the W3C specs is because the W3C is 
> bowing to pressure from people who want to use XHTML in 
> browsers that don't actually support it, but instead treat
> it as if it were HTML code soup. This encourages hybrid
> XHTML/HTML code that doesn't conform to standards. (I've 
> actually seen this happen.)

Which, whilst undoubtedly both correct and beautifully erudite,
has absolutely *nothing* to do with my point. I have no
complaints with that at all. If you read it again, however,
you'll notice that I was referring to Web Forms 2.0 over-ruling
of the W3C's assertion that XHTML documents MUST have a doctype.

> I believe the whole idea of WHAT WG is to create
> extensions to the standards that use those MIME types. Are 
> you suggesting that any work on an existing standard should
> require a new MIME type?

If it isn't html or xhtml, it can hardly pretend to advertise
itself as such, can it? - unless, of course, you envision these
elements as proposed revisions of HTML itself, which I believe I
suggested, although you seem to ...

> For several reasons:
> 1) We plan to release multiple specifications that extend
> 2) Our specifications are not limited to HTML/XHTML. They 
> also deal with  CSS, DOM and scripting.
> 3) The W3C has been moving to a more modular system of
> specifications. CSS 3 and XHTML 1.1 are good examples.

That doesn't change the pollution issue one iota.
> > As it is, your timescale is based on
> > piecemeal development of the three proposed specifications,
> > and yet each relies on the others to a certain extent.
> How do you determine interdependency based on a single
> specification (Web Forms 2.0)??? Right now, the other two
> specifications are just shells with a few notes in them. It
> may be a good suggestion to limit dependencies between the 
> specs, but that hardly means such dependencies 
> exist when two of them aren't even written yet.

It was my observation, from perusing the last few weeks of
traffic on this mailing list, that many people had mentioned
ideas which bore a direct relevance to Web Forms 2.0 - feature
requests, implementation details etc. - only to be told that
they would definitely be in Web Controls 1.0, Web Apps 1.0 etc.
I would imagine that the Web Forms 2.0 proposals would look more
complete if they were part and parcel of the same specification
as Web Controls 1.0, no? - given that Web Controls 1.0 is
described as "Some DOM and CSS extensions to create *new form
controls* and widgets". 

The W3C have been getter further and further away from how
*web-page* elements themselves should been represented (both
presentation and model) and more concerned with the semantic web
and data modelling / transformation. WHATWG seems like a
concerted attempt by the actual UA developers to redress the
balance. It wouldn't suffer if it were released as one
specification, and might gain.

As it stands, the fact that the proposals over-ride W3C
recommendations on HTML/XHTML is almost a guarantee that no
standards committee aside from the W3C itself could ever ratify
them, as they wouldn't wish to be seen to be redefining the
W3C's own specs, especially given the highly politicized nature
of the browser wars. The W3C, otoh, won't ratify them as
anything other than an evolution of HTML/XHTML, precisely
because they tread directly on those technologies. I'm making an
attempt at political realism.

> Web Forms 2.0 deals with extending form functionality. Web 
> Apps 1.0 will deal with new widgets intended for web
> applications. Web Controls 1.0 will involve creating a system 
> by which web developers can easily create custom widgets.
> All of these sound like separate extensions to me.

Yet with plenty of common ground to make more coherent sense in
united specification.

> > Get them *all* ready, and submit them *all* as an
> > extension to HTML, dropping the XML component.
> Why? Why create one incredibly long specification that
> will put  people off by its mere size? Why drop XHTML support
> when the browser vendors that have employees as members of 
> WHAT WG all support XHTML?

I'm thinking more about adoption, generally. You can't very well
offer the "Well, we're all here so that's all that matters"
argument. Anyone else contemplating adoption, or even getting to
know the specs, at the client programmer end, will more likely
wait until they know the complete picture before fully

Imagine *another* browser vendor wanting to implement your spec.
Why would they commit to web forms until they know the big
picture? Perhaps, between the three of you, IE, NS (who'd adopt
the mozilla code) and Konqueror, the desktop is fully catered
for, but what about development for handhelds and pda's. The
best application model would suggest knowing how the parts fit
together before designing the architecture. If you claim to be
developing a standard, you have to not only be impartial, you
have to be seen to be impartial. This element is at risk.
Piecemeal development will be seen as nothing but a benefit to

> You may not wish to directly criticize the policy
> decisions of WHAT WG, then make editorial suggestions IN THE
> SAME MESSAGE. Annoying the very people you're asking to make
> corrections IMMEDIATELY before suggesting them is not wise.

This list has been told repeatedly that this is an open process.
Any suggestions I have should be taken on merit (or lack
thereof). Nobody is forcing you to read. Whether it annoys you
or not should not be relevant.

> Another thing is that this email is a perfect example of why
> we should NOT submit all three specifications as one. This
> email could have easily been divided up over several emails 
> by topic, but instead you send one really long email and I
> got tired of reading half way through.

If I'd sent 5, 6, 7 separate emails I'd have been accused of
spamming the list. Issues either way. Apologies for doing it

> > I'm aware that the working document announced that you
> > wished to begin shipping product before Christmas but I
> > feel that, in order to be taken seriously, this just is not
> > feasible.
>     I suppose they should just wait until Longhorn ships
> then...

I fully understand that this is a project to lay down a marker
before the MS juggernaut fires itself up, but if you hurry this
through, and it be a "spec for yourselves", you open yourselves
to the same issues. Surely getting it done correctly is more
important than getting it done asap?
> > Leaking these specs and UAs as and when they are ready,
> > in small segments, does nobody any good.
> How is this "leaking"? If Microsoft submits XAML to the
> W3C, is their XAML documentation a "leak"? This is an open 
> process. How can it "leak" anything?

Leak as in drips and drops. Are Microsoft going to present XAML
piecemeal too?

> Well, I'm sure glad you didn't end this message with
> general cynicism and malaise ...

Well this one won't. I wish you well.


C Williams.

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