[whatwg] Support for the formation of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Community Group (was Re: HTML Working Group Changes)

David Singer singer at apple.com
Mon Apr 30 03:34:09 PDT 2012

On Apr 25, 2012, at 12:48 , Sam Ruby wrote:
>> I encourage discussion about what the CG will be doing to go to the
>> mailing lists that are provided for that purpose: they are listed in the
>> top right of the following page:
> Oops: make that top left.

Thanks, Sam, but cross-posting as I think it's relevant to people in HTML as well as WhatWG.  Please be sure that you choose wisely if following up!

As far as Apple is concerned, we plan to contribute and work in both the working group (WG) and the community group (CG). We think they both have important roles, and having them under the one umbrella will enable better fulfillment of those roles. Though the rest of this message discusses mostly what this means for the CG and its relationship to the WG, I want to say that our firm support for the work of the WG remains unchanged.

This step is positive for a number of reasons.  It brings one of the major places that HTML exploration is done 'home'; now the W3C has a community group working on the 'living (bleeding?) edge', and a working group forming stable specifications.

In addition, the WhatWG had a slight lack of infrastructure, most notably an IPR policy.  Making it a community group, and having contributions and documents be under that policy, is great.  Thanks to Anne for using the -contrib list recently for a formal contribution; that makes it clear that we're under that policy.

I also think that the W3C WG/Rec process has struggled for years with dates partly because it tries to guess when innovations will happen -- the exploratory phase of standards has been part of the calendar that chairs have to guess when writing a charter.  I think the CGs give us a good opportunity to do that exploration with lighter staff support, no artificial dates, and yet with a policy framework and a family relationship (the CG process also envisages possible transition of material to WGs).

There has also been question in the past about use and re-use of HTML text, if some of the work was inside and some outside the W3C. Well, now it's all inside; that concern goes away.

Finally, I think this brings clarity to 'where do I help?'.  As I see it, if you have new ideas that need working out, experimentation, and discussion, join the CG and help develop ideas there, so that they can be handed to the WG for standardization. And in a CG, it's OK to try, fail, and learn something in the process.  In fact, if you're not realizing that some of your ideas don't work out, I'd say that you're being too conservative.  WGs really are not good places for ideas with wrinkles.  If you have a mature concept that has acceptance and needs a stable, referencable, standard, then work with the WG.

Now, CGs are still fairly new; we haven't been all round the cycle with CG-initiated work. But I do think that their structure is well-designed, a very intelligent balance of needs, and really help the W3C be central not only in standardization, but also the exploratory edge. (If you are interested in standards process, read the CG documents, it's well worth it).

As I said, we at Apple are excited to be doing both WG and CG work; we need a lively edge and we need stable, interoperable, specifications. I would encourage everyone to do the same, and join and contribute to the group you're not part of - CG or WG. That way you can both initiate and stabilize ideas in supportive environments.

Personally, I congratulate all who helped bring this about; though there is undoubtedly more to do, this is a very positive step. Thank you!

David Singer
Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.

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