[whatwg] Correcting some misconceptions about Responsive Images

Rafael Weinstein rafaelw at chromium.org
Thu May 17 10:49:02 PDT 2012

It's easy to see how the experience you describe below would be
frustrating. FWIW, I routinely feel frustration at seemingly wasted

Unfortunately, it's inescapable that reaching consensus can be
exhausting, especially via email -- and doing so always requires
re-explaining the same thing multiple times in multiple ways. This is
true for everyone.

In fairness to Hixie -- being an editor is fairly thankless and he
does a remarkable job of keeping up even just with whatwg, webapps and
a few others (I gave up long ago). If you need someone to understand
something, it's best to directly bring it to their attention. The
internet is a big place =-).

I agree with both Jonas and Maciej's points above about lessons for the future.

It seems like the basic problem is that a feature which needs lots of
work collecting use cases and developer feedback requires a setting
which isn't intimidating for developers -- but ultimately, if it wants
to land in a spec, it needs the perspective and experience of
implementors and editors.

A few humble thoughts

-Have the CG recruit an experienced implementor or editor to
participate more or less from the beginning. This may short-circuit
time spent on solutions that won't work for esoteric reasons, and
there will be at least one person with one foot in both worlds.

-Cross-post significant outputs & decisions to whatwg, public-webapps,
etc... E.g. collected use cases, strawman proposals, recommendations,
etc... Even with the help of an implementors/editor, the ideas that
survive are those that withstand the scrutiny of the entire community
and getting that scrutiny early is nearly always better.

On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 9:18 AM, Matthew Wilcox <mail at matthewwilcox.com> wrote:
> On 17 May 2012 17:00, Rafael Weinstein <rafaelw at chromium.org> wrote:
>> As a UA "implementor", this seem to me to be purely a success story
>> for the single reason that it drew so much developer participation.
>> Regardless of what makes it into the spec, the worst possible outcome
>> would be if the developer community learned the lesson that UA
>> implementors are hostile to/dismissive of their problems, ideas and
>> solutions.
>> It seems to me like there's a problem of "walking a mile in someone
>> else's shoes" in both directions, but ultimately developers are our
>> customers -- not vice versa.
>> If it's required for either "camp" to go the extra mile to accomodate
>> the other -- it seems to me that it ought to be us.
> It's been a series of unfortunate things to be honest.
> 1) First off many members of the CG have been working on the adaptive
> images problem for close to a year at this point.
> 2) When a few went to the mailing lists some months ago, we were met
> with the realisation that Hixie was not even aware there was a problem
> (at this point it had already had months of outspoken and loud
> attention in the wider community, including a few publications in
> major web sites and magazines). That the 'lead' of the WG was ignorant
> of the issue left a few of us incredulous.
> 3) Then because the mail lists are not friendly to newcomers members
> of the group were mis-directed to form a spin off group.
> 4) Then the more recent communication fiasco with regard to srcset and <picture>
> The problem of miscommunication and poorly documented
> newcomer-unfriendly channels is not new. The rub on this one is *just
> how much work* has been put into the subject - as I say, close to a
> year - and then the realisation of so much seemingly being a waste. Or
> at least not seen to be valued, used, or openly discussed by the
> WHATWG, before some other (apparently random, to us) idea got pushed
> forward. As I say, the CG have discussed all of this openly, published
> in prominant magazines, done our due diligence research into any
> number of existing solutions etc.
> To see srcset appear from the shrouded mists of the WG mailing list was a shock.

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