"Clean Specs"

Marcus Carr mrc at allette.com.au
Mon Feb 8 23:13:36 GMT 1999

Lauren Wood wrote:

> On 8 Feb 99, at 9:14, James Robertson wrote:
> > Well, has anyone considered employing real, professional technical
> > authors to write the specifications?
> As chair of the DOM WG, I (and I think the editors of the specs)
> would be overjoyed were someone to volunteer the services of a
> real, professional technical author who could help in the process of
> getting good specs out the door. However, as has been pointed out
> by others on this list, this support is difficult to find, as W3C
> seldom has these resources available.

Should we assume from this that TBL's day ends with emptying the rubbish bins and vacuuming
the office? James' suggestion is right on the money - this shouldn't be considered to be a
luxury, it should be an integral part of the process.

To me, this whole debate taking on the feel of a programmer being thrown to the mercy of the
client while the project manager stands by watching. Even if Tim Bray did have doubts about
the namespace recommendation (and I have no reason to believe that this is the case), he (like
anyone else) feels that he has no option but to defend what we consider to be at least partly
"his work". We shouldn't be snarling at Tim and he shouldn't be snarling back - the whole
process should be elevated to discussion between the wider community (the client) and the W3C.
Obviously Tim's input would be valued (as would that of the programmer), but any
dissatisfaction needs to be directed at the organisation. I'm hardly an expert on the workings
of the W3C, but it appears that this form of interface doesn't exist.

The developer community aren't the only victims of the W3C process - it appears that the lack
of support results in those who write the recommendations also joining this hallowed group. If
the W3C wants to retain ownership (or whatever you want to call it) of the initiatives, then
they need to provide support for the creators and accept responsibility for the results. This
would result in a) discussions related to phrasing and construction of the recommendation
being directed to one trained in the creation of spec documents, and b) technical discussion
being directed to an organisation, not an individual who might (theoretically) have difficulty
abstracting best practice from satisfaction in the finished product.

Where's the project manager?


Marcus Carr                      email:  mrc at allette.com.au
Allette Systems (Australia)      www:    http://www.allette.com.au
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
       - Einstein

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