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Subject: Re: open-mindedness, objectiveness & anti-XHTML sentiments within the HTMLWG
From: Ian Hickson 
To: Dean Edridge 
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 18:52:58 +0000 (UTC)

On Thu, 29 Nov 2007, Dean Edridge wrote:
> Hello Ian,


> > # <Hixie> wtf happened in public-html
> > # # [19:46] <Hixie> we had weeks of nice constructive discussion and
> > suddenly a massive thread about nothing
> That's just your opinion Ian. Just because a thread goes against what 
> you want, doesn't mean it is about nothing.

It was, until Lachlan volunteered to edit a document, a thread talking 
theoretically about non-existant guidelines. That's nothing, insofar as it 
affects the Web.

> Actually I think that this post especially, makes a constructive 
> argument. Whether you yourself agree with my ideas, they are in fact 
> positive and worth debating: 

There are some members of the group, such as yourself, who want a limited 
allowed syntax that doesn't give much flexibility in how you express a 
DOM. I understand that. However, there are other members of the group who 
want to be able to use a different syntax. For example, as I noted in an 
e-mail to the group, there are some members who wish to be able to omit 
the ="" part of an attribute if its value is the empty string, or who 
wish to be able to omit the trailing / in void elements.

Both of these desires are, IMHO, reasonable, and both have, IMHO, good 
reasons behind them. However, I can't make both groups happy, since the 
two syntaxes are mutually exclusive.

The compromise solution is to make the HTML language allow both, and allow 
Web authors to add further constraints on themselves in the production 
process. For example, even if the spec allows you to omit the trailing / 
in void element tags, you can self-impose a requirement to include it. 
That way, you get to write documents how you want them, and the other 
group gets to write documents how _they_ want them.

I don't see any other way to address the needs of both groups.

> If you continue to promote a syntax like:
> <p class=intro>Readable Markup
> It will make it very difficult for people to ever write markup for 

I don't personally want to promote it. However, there are groups within 
the wider Web authoring community who do desire that they can use such a 
syntax legally.

I don't agree with the idea that just because HTML allows a particular set 
of syntaxes that Web authors will not be able to write documents that use 
other syntaxes. I think the fact that Web authors are able to write HTML, 
CSS, RDF, Atom, and other formats today is ample evidence to the contrary.

> These other languages are in a fragile state and need promotion to keep 
> alive.

I disagree with the premise of your statement (that those languages are 
dying), but even if it is true: languages should live or die on their own 
merits. We shouldn't bend HTML around to support languages that are not 
able to survive on their own.

> By making it unnecessarily more difficult to use these other markup 
> languages you are essentially working towards the deprecation of them.

Given the extreme support I have given SVG and MathML over the years (I 
sent hundreds of last call comments on SVG, I have written many SVG tests 
and performance benchmarks, I was the main QA contact for MathML in the 
Mozilla project for most of its development there, I have used SVG and 
MathML in my own personal projects for most of the past decade), I think 
it is ignorant to say that I am working to deprecate them.

> # General concerns regarding (X)HTML5
> I don't think that the working group and specification is being run in 
> an objective, democratic and non-biased manner.

I encourage you to bring this up with our chairs, then.

> For example:
> HTML5 Editor: Ian Hickson (Google)
> HTML5 Editors assistant: David Hyatt (Apple)
> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Anne van Kesteren (Opera software)
> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Maciej Stachowiak (Apple)
> HTML5 (not so democratic or balanced) author guidelines: Lachlan Hunt 
> (Opera software)

All of the above are volunteers. If you want to make it less biased, then 
TAKE PART. The authoring guide is an example of this: there was no 
authoring guide until a week or two ago, when Lachlan decided to just go 
write one. Why didn't _you_ decide to write one? Why don't you decide to 
write one now?

The group's work isn't being done by the browser vendors or people close 
to the browser vendors or people previously involved in the WHATWG due to 
any conspiracy to bias the group; the group's work is being done by those 
people because they are the only people who have gone ahead and 
volunteered their time and effort to actually DO something. _ANYONE_ could 
do something. (This is even more true in the WHATWG than in the HTMLWG: 
everything, from the maintenance of the blogs, forums, wiki, and mailing 
lists to the writing of the spec annotation software, the version tracking 
software, the tests, the implementations, the blog posts, the IRC 
logs,_everything_, is done by whoever wishes to volunteer. I have never 
turned anyone down if they were interested in doing something.)

> HTMLWG staff contact: Mike Smith (ex Opera software)
> HTMLWG co-chair: Dan Connolly (W3C) (Nice guy, but I don't know where he
> stands in regards to the future of  XHTML)
> HTMLWG co-chair: Chris Wilson (Microsoft) (The man that put his name on 
> the first XHTML spec 8 years ago, then prevented over 6 Billion people 
> from being able to use it!)

Those are W3C process issues, please raise them with the W3C, they're out 
of my hands.

> And god only knows what will happen when I decide to place my views into 
> the HTML authors guidelines. I imagine they will be immediately erased 
> by one of your followers.

My "followers" as you put it are self-aware, intelligent, independant 
individuals with their own views, their own opinions, and responsibility 
for their own actions. I don't take responsibility for their actions. If 
you wanted to be the editor of the authoring guide document, you could 
have volunteered to do it (and actually could have done it), just like 
Lachlan did. It's not like he was hand-picked, he picked himself. You 
could _still_ write your own authoring guide, and provide it as an 
alternative to the group, to be published either alongside, or instead of, 
Lachlan's guide.

> All of these people are staff members of companies that are trying to 
> deprecate XHTML by making it as difficult as possible to adopt XHTML, 
> SVG, MATHML and other essential W3C technologies.

Opera, Mozilla, and Apple would not have spent the huge number of 
resources over the last few years _implementing_ XHTML and SVG (and in 
Mozilla's case, and to a lesser extent, Opera's case, MathML) if they 
wanted to deprecate them. The HTML 5 specification wouldn't go to such 
lengths to support both HTML and XHTML if I wanted to deprecate XHTML.

> The HTMLWG is becoming less and less democratic everyday. It has become 
> a dictatorship driven by three companies: Google, Apple and Opera. These 
> companies have there own interest at heart which may or may not be in 
> the best interest of the open web. Unless one happens to be an employee 
> (or a friend of an employee) of these companies, one doesn't seem to 
> have much say in the way that HTML5 and XHTML5 gets developed.

I personally find this quite offensive given the extreme lengths I have 
gone to to take feedback from everyone in a fully inclusive way without 
considering who sent the input. Just look at the spec's acknowledgements 
list for a (hopefully) complete list of everyone who has said something 
that affected the spec's development. There are a large number of names 
there of people whose alignments don't follow Google, Apple, and Opera.

I have in fact taken big risks editing the HTML5 spec while working for 
Google in not always doing things the way Google might want them, but 
instead sticking to what is best for everyone on the Web. It would be easy 
to sell out and do things like take Gears APIs and insert them wholesale 
into HTML5 without considering other feedback, but I have risked my career 
to make sure that input from everyone is taken into account, even if that 
means major costs are incurred by Google (and its Gears team) in rewriting 
existing code to the new spec.

> I'm afraid to put forward my opinions to the public-html any more. If my 
> views don't match those of Googles, Apples or Operas. I doubt very much 
> that they will be added to the spec.

I'm sorry that you are fearful of posting feedback. I assure you that I 
don't look at who sent the feedback before taking it into account, I only 
base the editing of the spec on the actual substantive content of the 

> If you believe that the future of the web is text/html (which you 
> obviously do), that's fine with me, just don't allow yourself and your 
> mates to prevent others from using XML on the web please.

If there is anything in the HTML5 spec that prevents the use of XML, 
please do let me know. Again, I was under the impression that I had gone 
to extreme lengths to support both the text/html and XML serialisations of 
HTML, despite the realities of the Web (that so few people seem to want to 
use the XML serialisation).

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'