[whatwg] Removing versioning from HTML

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Mon Aug 24 17:36:51 PDT 2009

On Fri, 14 Aug 2009, João Eiras wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Aug 2009 12:01:31 +0100, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> > On Sun, 9 Aug 2009, Aaron Boodman wrote:
> > > 
> > > I frequently see the comment on this list and in other forums that 
> > > something is "too late" for HTML5, and therefore discussion should 
> > > be deferred.
> > > 
> > > I would like to propose that we get rid of the concepts of 
> > > "versions" altogether from HTML. In reality, nobody supports all of 
> > > HTML5. Each vendor supports a slightly different subset of the spec, 
> > > along with some features that are outside the spec.
> > > 
> > > This seems OK to me. Instead of insisting that a particular version 
> > > of HTML is a monolithic unit that must be implemented in its 
> > > entirety, we could have each feature (or logical group of features) 
> > > spun off into its own small spec. We're already doing this a bit 
> > > with things like Web Workers, but I don't see why we don't just do 
> > > it for everything.
> > > 
> > > Just as they do now, vendors would decide at the end of the day 
> > > which features they would implement and which they would not. But we 
> > > should never have to say that "the spec is too big". If somebody is 
> > > interested in exploring an idea, they should be able to just start 
> > > doing that.
> > 
> > I agree in principle.
> I wholeheartedly agree with all the reasoning, but there are issues.
> From an implementor's point of view it is much harder to implement and 
> keep up with a mutating specification. During implementation a stable 
> spec is preferred.

The parts of the spec you would be implementing would still be stable, 
it's just that other parts of it would evolve.

> Currently, because specs are being edited and might take a while to get 
> to CR, we have different implementors implement different parts of the 
> specifications, and then meanwhile the specification mutates and 
> implementors have to waste time updating their implementation which 
> could have been right from the start. I understand that implementation 
> feedback is necessary, but this is not very optimal.

We have to keep the spec from running away from implementations anyway, 
whether we have a stable snapshot model or a continually evolving model.

> After a spec gets to CR it can't just mutate out of thin air, hence 
> forking it into a new version is the way to go.
> Example: Gecko, Webkit and IE have localStorage, but the spec changed a 
> few days ago to allow structured storage.

If we do snapshots, it just means the implementors are working on an 
obsolete version of the spec, which is worse.

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

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