[whatwg] Technical Parity with W3C HTML Spec

Diego Perini diego.perini at gmail.com
Fri Jun 25 07:35:40 PDT 2010

Appreciate the informations on what's currently hurting the specs...

On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 12:13 PM, Doug Schepers <doug at schepers.cc> wrote:

> Hi, WHATWG folks-
> As you are probably aware, some differences have arisen between the W3C
> draft of the HTML5 spec and the larger WHATWG version.  In my opinion, the
> specific technical details of any given feature (which, let's be fair, are
> often more-or-less arbitrary) is of lesser importance than there being a
> single definitive version that is consistent between both organizations.
>  The whole point of an open technical standard is to promote
> interoperability between implementations, and having conflicting or
> ambiguous specs will not result in that goal.
> I'm not trying to be political about this, but since W3C and WHATWG are
> meant to be collaborating, there has to be a certain amount of of
> flexibility from both sides, for the good of the standard itself, and for
> readers of the spec.
> There are a few possible ways to handle this:
> 1) W3C could match the WHATWG version in all details, with all decisions
> made by WHATWG
> 2) WHATWG could match the W3C version in all details, with all decisions
> made by W3C
> 3) WHATWG and W3C could maintain different specs with different details,
> and list the differences with an explanation for each
> 4) WHATWG and W3C could adopt decisions made in each group, and where there
> is conflict, decide upon some method of settling the difference of opinion.
> Options 1 and 2 are obviously both unreasonable.

One of the unreasonable ways will do fine for the "real" end users.

I couldn't tell myself which of them but whatever other option will just
lead to confusion (as it is now).

I think it is clear to all that specifications should be driven for the
benefit of all, unfortunately we all have a hard time putting that in real

> Option 3 results in the problem we have now (though having an explanation
> for each difference would be an improvement; I don't know of any such
> wording now).
This is what should be avoided, not one more option.

> This leaves option 4.  W3C has a relatively clear method for resolving
> conflicts: first, the group tries to settle the issue on the merit of the
> technical arguments; failing that, the group may hold a poll (with each
> individual or organization given a single voice); if there is no consensus,
> the chairs of the group can make a ruling based on the reasoning at hand; if
> there are still Formal Objections to the results of that poll, the group can
> escalate the issue up to the Domain Lead, and ultimately all the way up to
> the W3C Director (who is normally Tim Berners-Lee).  Obviously, the strong
> preference is not to get to the poll stage at all.  I don't know of any W3C
> method for dealing with conflicts between different standards bodies, like
> W3C and WHATWG, so I think we're in the air here; W3C obviously has no
> authority over decisions made in WHATWG, but we need to find a way to
> resolve these conflicts.
> As I understand it, the editor seems to have final decision-making power in
> WHATWG, and I don't know of any process for appealing those decisions
> (assuming you would want to); for the purposes of arbitration between
> groups, how can we proceed?
> For the record, here's my suggestion:
> a) Both WHATWG and W3C should maintain a single definitive HTML5
> specification, that is a feature-for-feature match between groups
> b) For the longer-term WHATWG work, including sections that were once part
> of the HTML5 spec but were split off into separate specs (Canvas API) or
> removed (datagrid), there is another "Master Spec" that includes whatever
> the editor feels is needed in that spec, so long as it doesn't conflict with
> the HTML5 or related specs
> c) Where there are technical or political conflicts, WHATWG should decide
> how to resolve those internally, and how to represent the WHATWG point of
> view in the W3C HTML WG.  I would expect that people differ, so I would
> expect those different opinions to be represented in liaisons with W3C.  I
> don't have a good answer here, because I think it's up to the WHATWG to
> decide their own processes, but I hope we agree that we need improvements to
> how we liaison.
> Maybe the answer is to have a spokesperson or liaison role, someone
> respected in the WHATWG community with a reputation for reasonable
> neutrality?  Both Hixie and Maciej have conflicts of interest, as editor and
> W3C co-chair respectively.  Maybe Håkon or David, since they were
> instrumental in forming WHATWG in the first place?
With all respect for both suggested persons (I would vote for one of them
too), I believe neutrality is a term we shouldn't use to describe
willingness of a role person to help achieving the objective of both W3C and
WHATWG and that should be what the users expect: "one standard body pushing
one specification".

> (Sorry I won't be very responsive on this list, I'm actually on vacation
> and only have sporadic net access.)
> Regards-
> -Doug

Hope the best to both W3C and WHATWG, I am sure you can solve the liaison
fairly. Both groups have showed they can solve worst problems than these
superficialities... it's just a human thing you must get over :-)

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