[whatwg] Joe Clark's Criticisms of the WHATWG and HTML 5

Robert Brodrecht whatwg at robertdot.org
Fri Mar 23 15:31:49 PDT 2007

Nicholas Shanks said:
> Browsers that don't natively support XHTML aren't that important anyway.
> All of the browsers I have access to (that are currently maintained)
> seem to cope with it. This includes Firefox, Opera, Safari, Amaya,
> Lynx, Links, OmniWeb, iCab and many more smaller ones based on the
> Gecko and WebKit engines. Granted they may not understand the nuances
> of XHTML, but I can still read a document's contents.
> The browsers that doesn't are w3m 0.5.1 (2004), Netscape Communicator
> 4.8 (2002), Internet Explorer 5.2.3 (2001), TurboGopher 2.1 (1995)   and
> WWW/Samba 1.0.3 (1993)
> I can't test anything else as I don't have it.
> I don't see what the problem would be with serving HTML-compatible
> XHTML + CodeML to all of the above. Sure the older browsers wouldn't
> understand the CodeML, but there wouldn't be any great loss, and
> crucially the document authorship could retain it's semantics.
> You would also have to send the wrong MIME type to a few archaic
> browsers, but that doesn't really affect the HTML5 specifications.

No version of Internet Explorer does XHTML.  Unfortunately, due to IE's
market share, it is important.  Using html compatible XHTML would render
all my code-based markup pretty worthless (especially if some special
visual formatting were to arise like in MathML).

I don't know how different the HTML5 HTML serialization would be from the
XHTML5 serialization, but there are some cases where I need to use HTML,
not XHTML, regardless of browser support.  That would mean that, in those
instances, if we deported computer terms to CodeML (or whatever), I'd be
unable to markup code in my documents.

> Coming up with usage examples is trivial, justifying why they deserve
> to make the cut into a formal specification is not.

Hm.  On the Internet, we spend a lot of time doing keyboard input and
looking at computer output.  The use case was supposed to illustrate that.

> There has been so much previous discussion on <cite> that I won't
> continue that here, except to say that I think you are using it
> wrongly unless you are actually citing a TV show rather than just
> talking about it and want to italicise the name. (Not sure on your
> meaning of 'reference' above.)

I totally agree that I'm misusing it.  It's due to a lack of another
semantic way to markup titles of books, tv shows, etc.  If cite were more
powerful or another element was available, I could differentiate between
"I am citing a quote" and "The book I am talking about."

> I like a good mix of specific tags and general tags, as long as both
> kinds are applicable to a general audience (meaning most of the
> people and companies that put content online).

But not companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, etc. etc...

> Depends on your definition of computer too. The abacus is a computer.
> Are punch cards computer code? Does assembly count or are we
> restricted to higher level computer languages like Ada? Does
> scripting count? What about completely visual programming/scripting
> where no code is hand-authored and the <code> block contains a series
> of screenshots or a movie demonstrating how to create the software?
>> It may, again, come down to the description of the tag, not
>> the tag itself.
> But as you have said, most people look at the tag name, draw a set of
> assumptions based on the use of the word in general English, and   never
> look at the specifications. They'll then go off and blindly use   it
> wrongly.
> Even Joe Clark (who's rant this thread originally referred to)
> clearly did not read <meter> and assumed it meant <metre> (he seeming
> cannot spell either :-)

That was your point with <samp> and shampoo samples.  I'm saying that's
not proper usage for those guys.  My point when I said, "It may, again,
come down to the description of the tag, not the tag itself.," was that
the specifications aren't giving adequate descriptions of the elements. 
If your future shampoo company saw <samp> and misused it, it's not our
fault.  However, if they read the description and thought they could
shoehorn shampoo into the definition, then our definition wasn't adequate.
 That would be our fault.

>> But some people (e.g. your programmer) do care if it is computer
>> output.
>> You are telling one group to go to hell while embracing another.
> Not at all, I'm saying "your usage case is not general enough for
> explicit support, please use a secondary vocabulary". Whether that
> vocab is Dublin Core, hCard, MathML or whatever is irrelevant.

We could split hairs about most tags, and we could ship most of them off
to a "secondary vocabulary."  That wouldn't make things any better,
though.  We'd end up with a bare and useless specification.

> Yep, this is what we all want, and what I am arguing for. A ‘purer’
> reality-based HTML and not a markup language for geeks.

Yes, totally agree.  However, geeks use the language, too.  If you cut
geeks out in an effort to make the language more accessible for others,
you've failed to reach your goal by tossing some people out.  4 tags for
geeks doesn't seem like asking a lot.

> Well I was advocating moving them into another spec, not eliminating
> them entirely. But I have said my piece so I shall shut up now.

Ditto.  Just wanted to show some opposition in the event that sweeping
agreement happened.

Robert <http://robertdot.org>

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