[uf-discuss] Fwd: [whatwg] Predefined classes are gone

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Tue May 22 16:48:43 PDT 2007

On May 18, 2007, at 5:35 AM, Chris Messina wrote:

> Whohoo! This is great news.
> This was one of most ill-conceived ideas I can imagine. Leaving class
> values unfettered by the HTML spec is hugely important.
> I imagine that the original concept is something of a hat tip to
> microformats -- but avoids the process that we use as well as
> circumvents the peer review of this community. It also seems dictated
> by fiat as opposed to open discussion (but that's a minor point).

I find it questionable to argue that microformats.org defining  
semantics for particular classes is generally good, but to assume  
that W3C or WHATWG defining them is ill-conceived. Note that HTML has  
always predefined some "rel" values, and this has not stopped  
microformats from defining other rel values, some of which will be  
folded back in to the HTML spec.

In particular, I think your comments about the process differences  
are unfounded. The WHATWG and W3C processes that HTML will follow  
have their problems, but I think lack of peer review is not among  
them. There are over 700 people subscribed to the WHATWG list and  
over 400 members of the W3C HTML WG mailing list. There is also a  
well-defined process for review including a requirement for the  
working group to reply to review comments. And recent W3C specs tend  
to be quite rigorous, and backed by extensive test suites.

The W3C does have the advantage of widely perceived legitimacy in the  
overall web standards community, and the HTML Working Group in  
particular has the participation of all the major browser vendors.

I would say the key difference in process is that the  
microformats.org process is more informal and lightweight. This is an  
advantage for rapid development but potentially a disadvantage from  
the point of view of having a clear stable endpoint.

Personally I think collaboration on this point and on advancing web  
technology in general would be most valuable. Standards groups should  
focus on competing with proprietary web-deployed technologies (like  
Flash or Silverlight), not with each other.

> Anyway, I have it in mind to recreate some of the cooler HTML5 and
> XHTML2 features with existing markup/techniques, so we'll see how far
> we can get with the tech we already got.

I think you will find this is straightforward for much of HTML5 -  
this is by design. It tries to capture things authors are already  
doing and recast them in ways that can degrade gracefully in older  
browsers while benefitting from direct support in newer ones. Some of  
the new features, like the "classList" DOM attribute and the  
"irrelevant" markup attribute, are likely to be quite useful in  
conjunction with microformats.

Other features, like the <video> element, will be hard to emulate,  
since you'd have to depend on a grab-bag assortment of proprietary  
technologies with inconsistent feature sets.


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