Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group Launches Mailing List

Friday June 4th, 2004

Ian Hickson writes: "Some of you may be interested to hear that people from Opera and Mozilla have set up an open mailing list for discussing Web Forms 2 and other new specs that have been discussed in various places over the last few months."

The list is the public forum of the newly-formed Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, an organisation made of contributors from several major Web browser development teams. Current invited members are Brendan Eich, David Baron, David Hyatt, Håkon Wium Lie, Ian Hickson, Johnny Stenback and Maciej Stachowiak.

The group is working on specifications for Web Forms 2.0, Web Apps 1.0, Web Controls 1.0 and a CSS object rendering model. This work will be largely done outside of the World Wide Web Consortium, though finalised versions of the specs are expected to be submitted for formal standardisation. While the decision to operate independently of the W3C may be seen as controversial, many feel that formal standards bodies move too slowly to react to proprietary technologies such as Microsoft's forthcoming XAML. In addition, many in the W3C are pushing for Web applications standards based on technologies such as XForms and Scalable Vector Graphics, whereas the members of the WHATWG favour backwards-compatible HTML-based solutions, which they believe would be easier to implement and more likely to be adopted by Web developers.

#29 Disappointing news, IMO

by leafdigital

Monday June 7th, 2004 2:43 AM

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The last paragraph smacks of 'we are finding it difficult to implement SVG, it's taken three years so far and still isn't at a releasable state, so let's knock up something inferior'. I wish we'd get SVG support some time this side of the next ice age; I was using vector graphics (Corel Draw!) when my computer ran Windows 3.1 so it's not like the concept is a new one. (And yeah yeah, I know, I'm not volunteering to develop it so I can't complain.)

I'm in favour of a 'clean break' for Web technology; remaining backwards-compatible for ever keeps sites messy. XHTML2 for example (which admittedly doesn't seem to have progressed recently) looks like a great improvement to me and, now that standards are XML-based, there really shouldn't be too much difficulty in implementing that; if and when all the major browsers support it, people can start developing pages using it, and we have a way forward. XHTML 1.0 with its 'backwards compatible' bodge-job simply made a mess of the situation; people continue to write broken HTML 4 but now they use the XHTML 1.0 doctype. Worse, they do exactly the same with 1.1.

Personally I'd prefer if new extensions to forms or other aspects were introduced only as part of the newer XML (well-formed) standards. The page isn't going to work in IE anyway... why not make a clean break?

In summary: (a) I think it's fine if Mozilla wants to do their own thing or if they want to form a cabal with the other 'browser opposition' groups to do their own collective thing (b) I think it would be unfortunate if they also do not, in parallel, make serious efforts to support appropriate W3C standards such as SVG (c) Compound XML documents with things like MathML and SVG (and any other format somebody wants to invent), via appropriate browser plugins/extensions that can handle namespaced DOM entries rather than only external files, could solve many problems in a coherent manner


PS Somebody suggested Safari was 'huge'; maybe they meant in terms of a PR coup, but if they were thinking actual numbers, that's probably an error. Safari's a percentage of all Mac users, which as a group are anything but 'huge'; there are fewer Mac Web users in total (in terms of pageviews, site stats) than there are Gecko users, and in my stats at least there are many fewer Safari users than Opera users; I'm willing to bet that's general. That doesn't mean it's not extremely worthwhile to have co-operation between the three main alternative (non-IE) browser engines, of course it is. Just don't overestimate the significance of Safari/Konqueror.