[whatwg] Technical Parity with W3C HTML Spec
ian at hixie.ch
Fri Jun 25 12:01:39 PDT 2010
I would like to encourage peopel participating in this thread to focus
exclusively on coordination with the W3C. In particular, this is not the
right forum to discuss the W3C HTML WG public-html mailing list, the W3C
HTML WG's decision policies, or other W3C matters. We don't have the
authority in this mailing list to do anything about the W3C's internal
matters, so discussing them here is not productive.
What we _can_ make progress on is to find a way to coordinate with the W3C
and resolve any differences of opinion between the two groups.
On Fri, 25 Jun 2010, Doug Schepers wrote:
> As you are probably aware, some differences have arisen between the W3C
> draft of the HTML5 spec and the larger WHATWG version.
The WHATWG doesn't actually work on HTML5, it works on an unversioned
specification for HTML that is to be continually maintained. "HTML.next",
if you will (though the spec's title is still "HTML5" by request from
advocates -- apparently the word "HTML5" is a good buzzword at the moment
and it helps advocates if the spec has that name in the title).
The differences between this draft and the W3C HTML5 draft all fall into
- editorial differences with no normative impact (e.g. different style
sheet, different introduction section, different license, additional
examples in the WHATWG version, more implementation advice in the
- sections that are absent from the W3C version (e.g. <device>). These
are, by definition, part of "HTML.next" rather than "HTML5".
Could you clarify which of the two categories of differences, and within
those categories, which specific differences, you think are problematic?
> In my opinion, the specific technical details of any given feature [...]
> is of lesser importance than there being a single definitive version
> that is consistent between both organizations.
The goal is to get interoperability between implementations while
advancing the Web. It doesn't really matter how many versions of the spec
exist (it could be zero, one, two, ten), so long as we get interop. The
WHATWG itself has four versions of "the spec": HTML, HTML as a multipage
document, "complete", and "complete" as a multipage document. In the past
we've also had other versions, e.g. "HTML5" (as distinct from the "HTML"
spec which has the newer features), "Web Forms 2", etc.
> 3) WHATWG and W3C could maintain different specs with different details,
> and list the differences with an explanation for each
> 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).
The differences are detailed in the WHATWG spec's introduction. To have
the changes listed in the W3C spec's introduction I encourage you to
approach the W3C HTML WG.
> 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)
Others have explained the process, but just for the record, it is indeed
as they described: much as in the HTML WG, the editor makes the first
proposals, and if the editor is making bad decisions he can be overridden
or replaced by the charter members.
> 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
We had this for a while (a year or so, IIRC), but it turned out to be a
waste of time: nobody read the WHATWG HTML5 version, they all read the
WHATWG HTML version with the new features. Maintaining a version of the
W3C subset of the HTML specification on the WHATWG site just for the
purpose of saying we have a version with identical text seems like it
would be exclusively work for politics' sake, which isn't very
interesting. Having said that, the WHATWG spec is licensed under a very
liberal license, so if anyone wants to maintain such a version of the spec
they are welcome to do so.
> 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
That's the status quo.
> 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 Hakon or David, since they were
> instrumental in forming WHATWG in the first place?
Maybe an alternative would be:
"Where there are technical or political conflicts, W3C should decide how
to resolve those internally, and how to represent the W3C point of view in
the WHATWG. I would expect that people differ, so I would expect those
different opinions to be represented in liaisons with WHATWG. I don't have
a good answer here, because I think it's up to the W3C to decide their own
processes, but I hope we agree that we need improvements to how we liaison."
Are you authorised to represent the W3C on this matter, and if so, would
you agree with the above proposal?
> the specific technical details of any given feature [...] are often
> more-or-less arbitrary
I don't buy that at all. Specifications have to be very carefully
designed based on research, implementation needs, author needs, and a
careful consideration of the implications of their designs. They are the
opposite of "arbitrary".
> 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.
While I agree that it is helpful for us to cooperate, I should point out
that the WHATWG was never formally approached by the W3C about this, so I
don't think we can really say "W3C and WHATWG are meant to be
collaborating". The only "decision" I'm aware of on this front is what the
W3C HTML WG charter says, which obviously isn't binding on the WHATWG.
Ian Hickson U+1047E )\._.,--....,'``. fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/ U+263A /, _.. \ _\ ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer. `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
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