End of the XHTML thread (summary attached)

David Megginson david at megginson.com
Fri Sep 3 14:52:49 BST 1999

I think that it's time to let the XHTML threads die out for a while.
This has been an incredibly useful (if verbose) discussion, because
we've flushed out a lot previously-unspoken assumptions that people
have made about XML, HTML, Namespaces, Schema processing, and the Web.

For the record, here's my summary of what I believe to the be most
important points to come out during the discussion:

1. It is clear that their is not yet a consensus among XML developers
   that the kind of light-weight HTML Namespace model that I and many
   others have advocated is the right thing.

   That means that I may have been wrong in believing that in choosing
   three XHTML Namespaces the HTML WG was going against an obvious
   majority opinion in the developer community, though is it going
   with an obvious majority opinion either -- opinions are all over
   the place.

2. Namespaces and versioning is a problem that will not go away, and
   the lack of a standard, accepted solution is causing a lot of
   confusion and wasted time, both inside and outside the W3C.

3. Opinions are also very much divided on XML schemas: they are
   either the magic missing piece that will complete the XML puzzle
   and make the whole thing work, or a pointless distraction that is
   keeping us from getting on with serious work now.

4. The closed process of the W3C is no longer acceptable -- the W3C is
   fast losing the trust of the developer community, which is, after
   all, the community that will make or break each spec by deciding
   whether or not to bother implementing it.  Silence inevitably leads
   to speculation and to conspiracy theory-mongering (even among
   employees of member companies!).

5. Further to #4, the HTML WG has stumbled by publishing a major
   change without a rationale.  The situation (probably unfairly)
   makes the WG look high-handed and arbitrary, and the lack of a
   public explanation to accompany the public change allows rumour and
   innuendo to rush in and fill the gap.  The WG might want to look at
   Paul Prescod's carefully-reasoned arguments in this thread as a
   model for how they could defend the change.

   Those of us on W3C WGs should all take this as a cautionary tale,
   especially since the same thing happened last year to the XML WG
   when we suddenly changed the Namespaces spec with no convincing
   public explanation.

Well, that's about it.  Let's all let this issue lie for a while, and
then see where we are when the dust has had time to settle.  Thank you 
all for participating, and I would still encourage everyone to make
their opinions known to the W3C through one of the e-mail addresses
listed in the XHTML spec.

Thanks, and all the best,


David Megginson                 david at megginson.com

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