[whatwg] Correcting some misconceptions about Responsive Images

Tab Atkins Jr. jackalmage at gmail.com
Mon May 21 16:14:21 PDT 2012

On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 4:03 PM, brenton strine
<brenton.strine at gmail.com> wrote:
> However, it still looks like the most upsetting implication of his
> timeline, namely that the WHATWG is prioritizing implementors over
> authors, remains unclarified. Is it a misconception to say that the
> levels of priority outlined in the W3C HTML design principles [4] are
> not being followed here?

Yes, it's a misconception, since @srcset and <picture> are roughly
equally easy for an implementor to implement.  The "prioritizing"
language is about valuing the *needs* of one group over another.  For
example, if we rejected a suggestion because it was slightly harder to
implement despite being better to author, that would be prioritizing
impls over authors.

What happened here is simply that Hixie thought that one syntax (which
happened to be close to one suggested by someone on the Safari team)
was better than another syntax (which happened to be suggested by the

The <picture> proposal presented by the CG was insufficient to address
all the use-cases, as well.  (In particular, the
resolution-negotiation use-case.)  It can easily be extended to
address that, of course. (For example, by adding a @res attribute.)
If you did this, though, then you're back to two equally-powerful
syntaxes, and choosing one or the other based on personal taste.  This
is what we *did* end up with, in reality, and @srcset was chosen

> Especially since it seems that we can extend
> Tim's timeline with:
> 7. Authors react negatively to the addition of 'srcset' in the draft.
> 8. The 'living' draft is not changed and the authors' anger eventually
> fades into hopeless acceptance because once something goes in to the
> draft, it is set in stone forever and for all time.

As far as I can tell, the majority of the anger over @srcset was due
to bad initial information.  A lot of people thought at first that
@srcset was less functional than <picture>, and didn't understand the
functionality that it did present.  Once all that misunderstanding was
cleared up (due to threads like this one), a lot of that anger
evaporated as well.  Now we're back to a much simpler "I like syntax A
instead of syntax B" argument.


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