Clearer W3C Specs (was Re: XML Information Set is seeding impenetrable language; reconsider?)

Tim Bray tbray at
Sat Jan 22 05:30:53 GMT 2000

At 10:17 PM 1/21/00 -0500, Thomas B. Passin wrote:
>The thing about the writing is this:  the Recs must communicate clearly and,
>we hope :-), unambiguously to would-be users.  Think of all the arguments on
>this list that occur because neither the letter nor the intent of a Rec is
>clear.  There are two common ways to improve on written material.  One is
>peer review.  You should choose some reviewers that are expert in the field.
>The second is mass review, sort of like beta testing.  Discussion groups
>could do this.

Well, the original XML WG had an Interest Group with well over a hundred
members, many of them very opinionated.  I think the problem was they
were too close to the problem and focused on the issues not the language.

>Trouble with peer review is, who could you get, especially without pay, who
>isn't already involved?  Trouble with discussion groups is, a lot of the
>people responding are either not knowledgeable enough 

or too knowledgable.

>The IETF won't bless an RFC until there are two independent implementations.
>I think this is the right kind of approach.  

So do a lot of W3C-folk, and the process is being adjusted to allow for

>Surely, Tim B's Lark
>implementation must have been a great help to the XML committee.

Nope, that was my thought, but Lark was pretty useless as a spec
debugger because I implemented what I understood as opposed to what the
spec might actually have said.  We got better comments from other folk.
Still, it is true that the fact that there implementations starting in
early '97 was awfuly useful.

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