[whatwg] Questions: IE 6 Compatibility, HTML 5, Spec Timeframe, and Implementation Timeframe

Brad Neuberg bkn3 at columbia.edu
Tue Apr 26 12:00:36 PDT 2005

At 11:51 AM 4/26/2005, Ian Hickson wrote:
>On Tue, 26 Apr 2005, Brad Neuberg wrote:
> >
> > First, what exactly is the stance in regard to IE 6 compatibility for
> > Web Forms 2.0 and Web Applications 1.0?
>  * New features must gracefully fallback to legacy UAs: although that
>    fallback may be simple lack of support for that feature, using new
>    features in legacy UAs must not cause the experience in older UAs to
>    be worse than if the feature was simply not used.
>     Examples:
>      * <object></object> in HTML4 allows graceful fallback, and is fine.
>      * <img alt=""> doesn't allow good fallback, but degrades to nothing
>        at all, so could be considered if there were no other better ideas.
>      * Switching to a different MIME type makes the file unusable in older
>        browsers, so it would be unacceptable.

Nice.  I like this policy.  Perhaps the spec can specify a new behavior, 
and then describe how it falls back in IE across all the elements.

>  * Ideally, new features should be implementable using shims in WinIE, but
>    there may be cases where that's not possible, and in those cases we're
>    not going to avoid adding the feature just because WinIE can't do it.
>     Example:
>      * a 3D context for <canvas> is probably not something we can
>        realisticly expect to see implemented in IE using JS, but it's
>        still something we've had demand for and thus something we'll
>        likely be working on.

Yeah, shims are great but I also agree that we shouldn't let IE hold back 
progress.  A middle ground sounds like the best approach, which you have 

> > I've been hearing things lately concerning Web Applications 1.0 that
> > seem like they would be very difficult, impossible, or cause slow
> > performance if emulated in IE 6.  Whats the exact relationship between
> > these specs and IE 6?  Will there be a baseline of support in IE 6, a
> > low water mark?
>The relationship is that most people won't use features that don't work in
>IE, so most features have to bear that in mind. Some people have specific
>needs (<canvas> for example is something we've heard a lot of demand for
>from people wanting to write games and the like), which they can't ever
>expect to really have work in IE, and so for those we need to offer
>features designed so that they can still provide alternative versions for
>IE (i.e. fallback).
> > Second, what is the relationship of HTML 5 to these two specs? Who is
> > developing this standard?  At first glance it seems like a large
> > dependency.
>HTML5 is the Web Apps spec. It isn't called that yet in the headings for
>political reasons.

That makes sense.  So, Web Forms 2.0 is a response to XForms, since XForms 
isn't realistic, and Web Applications is basicly a realistic HTML 5, which 
the W3C won't or can't provide in the terms the web needs today?

> > Third, is there a timeframe for completing these two specs and for
> > getting actual implementations out the door?
>Web Forms 2 is basically done and will be going to Call For
>Implementations shortly.


>Web Apps 1 has no ETA yet. Implementations of some parts have shipped for
>years (XMLHttpRequest), implementations of others are likely to ship soon
>(<canvas>), implementations of other parts aren't likely for a long time
>(relatively speaking).
> > I'm concerned that proprietary web app/rich web app defacto standards
> > will succeed faster than the WHAT-WG, like Flash and Avalon, and one of
> > the things that attracted me to the WHAT-WG was its focus on being
> > real-world and pragmatic, getting it out the door rather than getting it
> > perfect, co-opting and using existing de-facto standards like innerHTML
> > rather than rolling new ivory tower ones.  Would hard deadlines on both
> > specs, including deadlines for implementations, help this?
>I agree that we have to move fast. I believe the main ways to do this are
>to (a) write text at a steady rate (as I am doing), (b) to get feedback on
>the spec (as is happening), and (c) to stop adding new features. There is
>one more feature I think we need to add to the spec that isn't there
>already, namely the session stuff that people have been discussing. Other
>than that I'm of the opinion that we have enough features for "HTML5" now
>and so "all" that remains is fleshing the spec out.
>I don't think deadlines would help, really.

I agree; I like your approach.  Thanks for all the work and being 
responsive to people's concerns.  Thats not easy. :)


>Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
>http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
>Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Brad Neuberg, bkn3 at columbia.edu
Senior Software Engineer, Rojo Networks
Weblog: http://www.codinginparadise.org


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