You, me and the W3C (aka Reinventing HTML)


Some of you may not be aware that the W3C is recognizing that there has been an unfulfilled need for the evolution of HTML, and they are chartering a new HTML Working Group to do this (rather than the XHTML 2 track that the HTML WG has been developing for several years now).  Some more of you might also be unaware that I was asked to be the initial chair of this new working group.  I’ve gotten a bit behind over the last few weeks, but thankfully the W3C extended voting on the charter, so this post is still relevant.


Over the holidays, I noticed Daniel Glazman’s response to the charter, and to my proposed role as initial chair.  I’ve known Daniel for years, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.  I don’t take any of his comments personally, as I’m 100% certain they were not meant personally. 


Daniel, you have an objection to a major browser vendor taking the chair of the most visible WG in the Consortium.  I can understand your concern, but I think it’s misplaced.  I don’t think chairship gives any particular power in a W3C Working Group; I believe it carries the responsibility to get things done, and to be objective about the needs and requirements of the other WG members and the public we serve.  I’m quite certain that the members of the WG would quickly complain about my behavior if I did get out of line – the first thing I said to the Chris Lilley of the W3C when he said the new HTML WG was likely to happen and that several of the other W3C staff said they would like me to be Chair was that I wouldn’t even consider it unless the other browser guys thought I was a good choice.  In many ways, at the time (spring of last year) I felt like I was the moderate voice in the middle of the conflict between the WHAT-WG and the W3C in perspective; the WHAT-WG members wanted to revolt and do HTML outside the W3C (as they think “HTML5” is doing now), and I was the one who went to the W3C guys and said, “umm, you realize all the browser vendors are upset and think the HTML WG is on the wrong track entirely?  How about we do something about that?”  As for the press saying “Microsoft puts its hand on HTML”, well, I’d expect the other browser vendors to refute that if it became an issue.  I’ll try to restrain myself from inserting the MARQUEE tag into the standard.  ( 🙂 for the humour-impaired.)


I should be really clear here – I don’t really want to be the chair of the HTML Working Group.  I know full well the likely value of that job in my career growth at Microsoft is minimal – I’ve had to defend that this would be a good use of my time, and I’m not done with getting approval – and I have an inkling of the time it’s going to take – probably 20% of my total work time (that’s less than the W3C estimate).  It sounds like a lot of work herding cats, and I’m well past the idealistic part of my career where that sounds fun in and of itself.  It needs to be done, though, and I don’t see another good person with an objective perspective to do it.


Daniel, if there were another chairperson totally independent from all desktop browser vendors who could be driven about the goals of evolving HTML, understanding of the requirements of large and small entities (from one-person shops to Microsoft-sized entities), could remain objective and were truly independent (including from the WHAT-WG), then frankly, I’m all for them taking the job.  The problem is that I don’t think there are many people who can claim that.  I agree I’m biased with my background, for better or worse – that’s why I’ve had to consider the chairship as a reason that I would be LESS personally involved in the design decisions of the HTML WG, not more.  I’ll likely need a strong Microsoft alternate on the WG since I can’t be as involved.  That’s a cost I have to trade against my confidence that I’d be a good person to get the W3C and the WHAT-WG more aligned and to actually make good things happen in the HTML WG.  (If Lauren Wood wants to take the job, I’d be delighted, as I still hold her as the gold standard of an objective, driving W3C Working Group chair from the DOM WG days.  I think she learned her lesson, though.  :))



Daniel, you also expressed concerns about the 4 yearly face-to-face meetings and conference calls since a lot of WHAT-WG members are individuals who cannot afford travels around the world on their own budget nor can spend a lot of money in costly phone conference calls.  I hear your concern; I’d prefer to minimize the travel and face-to-face meetings for personal reasons anyway, but I would also caution that the WHAT-WG method, where one person who is the employee of one particular company does the bulk of the editorship work and therefore the design, is not a good method either.  I’d also be happy to discuss modifying the “in good standing” rules, and in general figuring out how to allow non-W3C members to have their voice in the development of HTML, because (as I’ve said to many others over the past year) I strongly believe we need to allow independent involvement in the development of W3C standards; however, and this is a critical point – W3C Membership is a responsibility as well as a financial cost.  When you become a Member, you agree to abide by the W3C’s rules, and in particular, the Patent Policy. 


I should be clear here that I am not a lawyer, and the following should not be considered legal advice.  Consider it a layman’s simplification of the issues, but you should consult your own lawyer.


The Patent Policy is intended to provide protection for ALL W3C Members, as well as non-members, in making the specification “free” – free to be implemented.  (Note that I’m referring to Working Groups that operate under the Royalty-Free Patent Policy – like HTML and CSS.)  We want people to be able to implement the spec.  We also want people to participate in its design, if they are taking on the IPR commitment of that participation (that is, that they are effectively contributing their applicable IP).  I’m currently having a discussion with the W3C staff about how to open up the input process while maintaining the value of the Patent Policy; there is also a public discussion going on.


As an aside, I was asked personally to join the WHAT WG over a year ago.  I had a back-and-forth discussion in email with several of the members of the WHAT-WG.  I said something to the effect of “I agree with your goals, all except standardizing error-correction*”.  However, I also said “you have no patent policy, and that makes it impossible for me to join.”  The response was something along the lines of “yeah, we should get one of those.”  There is still no patent policy for the WHAT-WG that I’m aware of – and more importantly, no commitment from those making contributions that they are contributing any relevant IP to those implementing the WHAT-WG specifications, and in my personal opinion that makes the WHAT-WG irresponsible in ensuring that their specifications are actually “free”, even based on the contributions from their own members (inasmuch as anyone is a member).  That also makes me REALLY concerned about just rubber-stamping the WHAT-WG design for HTML5.  Unfortunately, the more open a design process is, the more possible it is to be affected by IPR (because there are more people giving input). 


I don’t think W3C Membership is the right requirement for participation in a WG, because the financial cost is too high for a whole group of people with an important set of perspectives, but the responsibility of the Patent Policy needs to be a bar for giving any significant design input.  I want the new HTML WG to allow contributions from people who are not W3C Members, and in fact in some cases I want to specifically elicit those non-Members to be involved; but I believe it must be a requirement that those contributors explicitly agree to the Patent Policy, as we Members have done.  We can’t go back to the 90s.


I’ll avoid a personal diatribe here – but I want you to understand that this is not a world I PERSONALLY enjoy in terms of IP restrictions.  This isn’t my choice.  I’m just trying to spend less time being sued, when all I’m doing is implementing a standard.  (See Eolas case.)


In short, I don’t think we can blindly follow the “everything is totally open” model, because I don’t think we will be able to preserve the Patent Policy and its value.  The W3C Legal staff should probably comment on this, because it’s clearly not my domain; I am not a lawyer, and despite all the lawyers except one that I’ve spent time with being really nice guys (and ladies), I don’t particularly want to increase that time spent either.  I just want the specs to be free to be implemented.  Anyone who isn’t concerned about this simply doesn’t understand the implications well enough, in my opinion.


There’s no perfect scalable system for developing such a central piece of the Web.  We need to have a lot of people involved; yes, conference calls do get difficult with thirty plus people on them.  I think the key is Responsibility – being a member (lower-case-m-member) of the WG is a responsibility, to represent users and developers.  The responsibility of the WG chair is to make sure that the members of the WG are fulfilling that responsibility; that’s the reason behind “in good standing,” though I think it is heavy-handed and therefore misguided.  In reality, in the WGs I’ve been part of the “in good standing rules” don’t necessarily translate to things actually getting done;  members in good standing can blow off their work items consistently and still be in good standing, while people who could be major contributors to the WG can’t be in good standing because they have to miss meetings.  I would like to make sure a more flexible model of involvement is supported.  Maybe that’s your underlying point?


I also agree with you, Daniel, that this WG’s future work is deeply influenced by the work already in progress in the WHAT-WG.  I agree that the HTML WG must establish a strong working relationship with the WHAT-WG, and I agree strongly on one thing – ideally, the new HTML WG and the WHAT-WG should become one and only one entity.  We must evolve HTML, and I think I stated privately before that I believe I agree with the goals behind the WHAT-WG (all except enforcing common error-correction – see note in postscript).  Evolution of HTML 4.01 means that we need to always consider how “new content/applications” will work in downlevel systems – in IE6, for example, but also in a limited browser on a set-top-box or mobile device.  Really, that means “how does this degrade to HTML 4.01” and “how does serving this content work for old systems”.  It also means, of course, expanding the capabilities in HTML, particularly in the forms space.  HTML is the center of the web universe.  That’s a powerful responsibility.


I believe this Charter represents not a compromise between the W3C and the WHAT-WG, but (most of) the original goals of the WHAT-WG inside the W3C.  I think that’s a good thing.  The RIGHT thing, even.  I’m not sure what more you’re looking for – the HTML WG shouldn’t be chartered to be the WHAT-WG’s slave, as I’m sure you’d agree that would be a foolish charter.  I’m not sure if you’re looking for a mea culpa from the W3C for the HTML WG over the last few years; if so, I’d recommend just moving on.


On communication, I read “the HTML WG pages should be entirely public” and I’m not really sure what to make of it.  Everyone should be able to read the text of a joke that I make at Ian Hickson’s expense, in good fun during a WG meeting?  Or everyone reads the Microsoft-bashing that inevitably occurs?  I’d prefer to be a little more professional in how the WG presents itself.  Everyone can read the current works-in-progress? Of course.  The issues list and current resolutions are public?  Absolutely.  Anyone has the ability, without paying money or having to travel or spend an hour each week on a long-distance teleconference, to contribute to HTML?  Again yes, but with the caveat that we must solve the IP responsibility dilemma.  We (the responsible members of the WG) listen to the “customers” of the spec?  What a novel concept!  Again, I absolutely believe in this.


I believe as initial chair of the HTML WG, it would be my personal responsibility to be the glue between the W3C and the WHAT-WG, and I would hope in the eventuality of time the WHAT-WG would simply dissolve because it’s no longer necessary.  I don’t question that the W3C is not what it needs to be today to allow that to happen; in fact, that’s why I personally pushed to do something drastic about the HTML WG.  I do want to be clear though, that in my opinion HTML is not in the hands of the WHAT-WG and never has been, despite calling a spec or set of specs “HTML 5”; it belongs to the W3C.  Their stewardship of it over the last few years has been wanting, but that’s the point of the (new) HTML WG.  The right thing for us to do is to evolve HTML 4.01.  Let’s go do it.


Inside, though I’m really hoping that you have a name of someone else to take over the chairship.  🙂


-Chris


PS: On error correction standardization – I disagree with this goal of the WHAT WG because I don’t believe it is responsible for Microsoft to cause any unnecessary compatibility problems (e.g. the problems that would be caused if we changed error-handling behavior).  If the WHAT-WG wants to standardize on EXACTLY what IE6 does for any given error case, no matter how funky it may be, great, but I don’t think that’s what they would consider doing.

Comments (239)

  1. I don’t think it makes the HTML WG (or other entities) look unprofessional if the public is able to see that the people behind are normal human beings that make fun of each other, make (human) errors, have different opinions etc.

  2. Ian Hickson says:

    Hey Chris,

    The WHATWG error handling rules as currently specified are as close to what IE6 and IE7 do as possible while still being implementable for Safari, Opera, Mozilla, and other browser vendors who have taken part in the work. Obviously not everything is the same (e.g. where IE6 crashes, the HTML5 spec requires something else) but by and large it is already as close to IE6 as possible. So not only would we consider doing what you describe, to a large extent, we’ve done it. In practice browser vendors have to do that anyway, whether it’s specced or not, due to the volumes of content on the Web depending on it. It’s better to have a spec than require reverse engineering (especially when your EULA might forbit the latter!).

    Regarding patents, note that the W3C patent policy wouldn’t have stopped the Eolas case.

    I look forward to working with you in the W3C HTML working group. Like you, I hope that the W3C HTML working group eventually makes the WHATWG redundant. However, as I’ve told the W3C before [1], the current charter would disenfrachise the existing WHATWG community without having any mechanisms in place to ensure spec quality, so I am not convinced that this will happen any time soon.

    [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2006Nov/0053.html

    -Hixie

  3. HT says:

    I was once a member of a W3C working group, and from my experience it did seem like the chair can have significant influence over the spec – or perhaps I should say that the person who edits the spec has the influence (in my case the chair and the editor were the same person). An editor of the spec probably spends more time thinking about the spec and the special wording that anyone else on the group, and can therefore subtly influence how the spec comes about. Sure, the other members have a chance to counteract this, but if they don’t spend as much time on it as the editor it seems unlikely. In some cases the editor can make some choices, and it is only natural to make choices in a way that benefits the editor and his/her company.

  4. Garry Trinder says:

    Christian,

       FWIW I agree with you.  But I’ve worked for Microsoft for a long time, and I can’t get away from the fact that not everyone is willing to expect the best from others, and understand that there is context to everything.

    Ian,

       I know that’s been your goal in for error correction in the WHAT-WG.  We (MSFT) can’t change error-handling at ALL, because we’re locked into compat.  I don’t think what we do to handle errors is sane or a good idea, in many cases.  I wouldn’t want it to be a spec, but at the same time we can’t change it in-place.  "Implementable" is a good word.

       As for the disenfranchisement, I would hope (and work to make) that is not true.  I think every member of the WG is responsible for ensuring spec quality.

    HT,

       In my experience the editors do have much more power to enact change or wreak havoc (depending on how you look at it :)) than chairs.

  5. Boris Zbarsky says:

    Chris, based on testing of IE7, it looks to me like MSFT made some major changes from IE6 already (e.g. whether javascript: URI execution is sync or async has changed in a number of cases).  I’m not sure what that means in terms of your ability to make parser error-handling changes.

    I agree that there are cases where WHATWG and IE6 will simply disagree (e.g. the cases where IE6 produces a DOM that’s not a tree).  But I think it still makes sense to have a description (possibly informative) that describes how parser error-handling should happen to be maximally compatible with existing content.  It’s a good idea for the health of HTML — it reduces the barrier to entry into HTML rendering…

  6. Noel Grandin says:

    I haven’t noticed that any other group that operates their discussions in the public eye has any lack of humor and/or  joking between members.

    (a) Tell your lawyers and executives to get over themselves.

    (b) Get used to it.

    It really works quite well once people get used to it, and you get broader feedback at much higher rate than otherwise – there are always a ton of people not on the working group who will make good suggestions via other communication channels.

    And as any good engineer knows, the less delay in your feedback loop, the sooner you lock on a good target 🙂

  7. jgraham says:

    It seems to me that your reluctance to specify well-defined error handling is a good example of Daniel’s concerns; the reasons you give are because Microsoft would take the business decision not to implement that part of the spec. However, in your own words, the qualities for a good chairperson are someone "who could be driven about the goals of evolving HTML, understanding of the requirements of large and small entities (from one-person shops to Microsoft-sized entities), could remain objective and were truly independent". By these criteria, a good chairperson would be enthusiastic about the benefits offered to everyone (apart from Microsoft) by interoperable error handling; it allows one person shops to implement HTML parsers that deal with the vast majority if content in the wild, it increases the chances that content which works in one non-IE browser will work in all non-IE browser and generally reduces the number on man years wasted as different groups separately try to work out how IE handles a particular case of malformed markup. These advantages are huge, even if Microsoft won’t change their implementation.

    I’m not saying that you wouldn’t be a good chairperson (I have no way to tell), but in my mind you’ve reaffirmed Daniel’s original point.

    I’m also curious why you regard independence from the WHATWG as an important quality in a chairperson. If the eventual idea is to merge the two groups, it seems like enforced separation is a poor way to start.

  8. Matthew Raymond says:

      Okay, let’s say I’m developing a new commercial web browser that supports HTML. That browser needs to be able to handle errors for HTML, so I must take one of the following actions:

    1) Define my own proprietary error handling.

    2) Copy the error handling of a major competitor.

    3) Follow an error handling standard.

      Option #1 is to labor and time intensive and would result in pages with errors being rendered in a manner different from other browser.

      Option #2 is legally problematic for closed source applications, especially if the EULA forbids reverse-engineering. I could use code from an open source browser to determine error handling behavior, but unless I’m reusing the source code, this ends up being labor intensive  because I must read through the code and document how it behaves before I can write my own code for the same purpose.

      Option #3 eliminates the cost of specifying behavior on my own before implementing that behavior in code, so it requires the least amount of labor and time. If that standard is used by the majority of browser vendors, it’s a no-brainer even if it’s not supported by the browser with the most marketshare for the following reasons:

    a) At worst, my browser is no worst at handling errors than any other competitor of the browser with the most marketshare.

    b) The error handling will be reasonably close to the browser with the most marketshare because competing vendors would never have implemented the standard otherwise.

      Would it matter to me if WHATWG created the standard instead of W3C? Probably not, because all other options are too costly in labor and time-to-market. So if the W3C decides not to do error handling at all, I’d just the WHATWG spec.

      Therefore, what would be the motive for blocking an error handling specification in the W3C, since it clearly benefits implementors to have such a standard? Well, if your employer is the browser vendor with the largest marketshare, it would clearly not be in your interests to support a standard that prevents you from using incompatibility between browsers as a competitive advantage.

      I’m not saying that Chris Wilson opposes a definition of error handling for this reason. It could be that he’s concerned about rendering thousands or even millions of web pages that were tested using IE error handling would suddenly fail in browsers that use the new standard, for instance. I’m just saying that there appears to be a conflict of interest. Chris should consider that, in the end, a spec will get published, and if it’s not published by the W3C it may color his reputation as chair.

  9. Garry Trinder says:

    I think the last several comments miss my point.  I DO think that error-handling should be part of a spec; I DON’T think you can back-track that into html4.01 parsing.  If you want to put it in a new system, great – I’ve publicly stated that as essentially the reason we don’t support the XHTML MIME type yet, because I want to do it right and not mess up the error-handling (or more to the point, the lack thereof).

    If the error handling rules are explicitly only for HTML > 4.01, and that’s clearly identified by DOCTYPE, that’s fine too.  If they’re informative, fine, but my point is that we (MSFT) can’t change our handling of errors in HTML 4.01 content without causing potentially massive compatibility problems for our own browser.

    In short – error-handling definition for future only – great, no problem, I agree it’s an interoperability issue that I want the spec to address.  (I’m not as religious as others who seem to think that XML’s draconian error handling is not a good way to address this, however.)  Again, future content types only, I support this – I said CHANGING error-handling behavior, not putting error handling in a new content type (lower case content type, not MIME type necessarily, but clearly identified).

    My concern is the spec changing under our compatibility parsing system for HTML 4.01.  That’s not just because I work for Microsoft – it’s because if I support making the spec change like that, I’m giving Microsoft a Solomon choice – either break compatibility and screw your users, or ignore the spec and screw your developers.

    JGraham – I regard independence from the WHATWG as important for the same reason I don’t think the HTML WG that produced the XHTML 2 spec is the right group to evolve HTML – they have a bunch of biases because they believe they’ve already developed the solutions.  There may be nothing wrong with them (other than the IP concerns I listed) – but I’d like a fresh eye that can examine the work the WHAT WG has done AND be objective about the positive aspects of the W3C.

    Noel – I totally agree the less latency, the better.  That’s why I still support teleconferences and FTF meetings, though I wouldn’t want them to be the only or even the most important way the WG does business.

    Matthew – the big challenges for HTML (and I think the other people who support the new WG vs. the old HTML WG would agree) is to evolve HTML in place.  Just looking at it from a "build a new browser" or "build a new site that only has to deal with new browsers" perspective is kinda what the XHTML 2 spec does.

    Oh, and Ian – no, the Patent Policy would not have prevented the Eolas case.  However, it would prevent concerns about contributors to the spec intentionally introducing protected IP.

  10. Joe Clark says:

    Acting as chair of a W3C committee is akin to the Canadian governmental system, sometimes dubbed a parliamentary dictatorship. You have enormous influence and can round up all your friends on the committee via back channels. You can unilaterally cancel, or conspire with your cochair to cancel, anyone’s invited-expert status. You can and, according to W3 procedures, in some cases must ignore outside criticism. You can state that something was passed by consensus even if some people were in opposition.

    You can, in short, act like the chairs of the WCAG Working Group.

    Or you can decide that the whole thing is tainted and not do it.

  11. Tino Zijdel says:

    A new version of HTML will most probably not be based on SGML (WHATWG’s WA1.0 at least isn’t) so therefor I think it is safe to assume that both the parsing rules as well as the rules for error-correction should only apply to documents that are specifically marked up using this new version of HTML. And yes, doctype can be used for that.

    The spec should be backwards-compatible in such way that HTML4 parsers can at least make something of it, but ofcourse there can be no guarantees.

    I do however have some concerns about the stance MSFT is taking here with regards to backwards compatibility. After all we are talking about pages that are broken to begin with so the fear of ‘breaking the web’ seems a bit ambiguous. And how does that translate to other propriety technologies such as the obsolete document.all object model and IE’s whacky event-model? Holding on to backwards-compatibility effectively means that IE will never become truly standards-compliant.

  12. Asbjørn Ulsberg says:

    Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have, I think it’s very good that it is a Microsoft employee (like you) that has taken the position as chairman of the HTML WG. I believe you will do an excellent job and even more importantly, I think you will do a good job of bringing the HTML WG’s work inside Microsoft and "evangalizing" about it there so future versions of Internet Explorer will comply better with the specification.

    About standardizing error correction; I think this is very important. Just look at CSS and its success, most importantly at its ability to be extended with proprietary properties. Only because CSS’ error handling is well specified is this possible. Exactly what the error handling (and correction of it) in HTML should be is another discussion, but it should definately be a part of the HTML specification how that error handling and correction should be. That’s at least my opinion about it.

    About the IPR commitment, can’t that be something included in the registration form for the mailing list?

  13. Rob says:

    I’ll repeat what I’ve posted elsewhere:

    "I don’t trust Chris Wilson because he has a Microsoft agenda. Therefore, it is a horrible decision to make him chair of this group. In addition, there are other persons, groups and companies who have long shown a willingness and responsibility toward the standards group in the past while Microsoft AND Chris Wilson have not."

    And please don’t point to IE7 as a ‘willingness or responsibility’.  I’ve had my joke of the day already.

  14. Andri says:

    IMO, it is not very appropriate for the chairman to be the employee of one of the biggest stake holders. Also, many people blame MS for crippling the evolution of the web by not making IE6 standards compliant from the beginning. Hell, I don’t even trust MS to do anything right these days.

  15. I posted the Safari Team’s comments on the proposed charters: http://webkit.org/blog/?p=89

  16. Sentido Web says:

    El grupo de trabajo que, dentro de la W3C, se encargará de la controvertida misión de "reinventar el HTML", estará liderado por Chris Wilson, el jefe del proyecto IE7. Este grupo de trabajo colaborará con WHATWG de evolucionar el HTML…

  17. Garry Trinder says:

    Rob, you clearly do not know me personally and therefore do not know whereof you speak.

  18. Rob says:

    I should have mentioned that I don’t mean this personally.  As others have said, I’ve never met you and only saw you in online video.  I am commenting on your company and the company face you wear.  Neither has shown to be trustworthy.

  19. ---...--- says:

    How M$ ever thinks it can get away with having

    an employee chair a W3C HTML standards body is

    beyond me.

    M$ has cost the industry millions of dollars in

    waste with bloated, bug ridden, insecure,

    regularly power recycling OS’s and used illegal

    acts to impose a monopoly coz, duh, Bill’s got

    a "vision". Sorry, SIR Bill’s got a "vision".

    Embrace and extend HTML ? Get lost.

    Give us a break and step down. No one thinks

    it’s a good idea except possibly you and your

    Imperialistic Bosses.

  20. BrentP says:

    Chris gets appointed as chair and everyone chokes on the word Microsoft. Get the hell over it already, we’ve heard the M$ rhetoric for years now and regardless of opinions excluding them and anyone associated with them doesn’t solve the problem nor is it in the spirit of what the W3C is about.

    So, accepting that MS are going to be a part of standards discussion, is Chris a good choice for chair? I’ve honestly no clue. I don’t know Chris, I don’t know his work ethic, his goals or what drives him.

    Here’s a novel idea, why not give him the benefit of the doubt, see what happens over the course of his appointment and mark him based on what comes out of the HTML Working Group, instead of frothing at the mouth every time MS is mentioned and make blanket assumptions about the ethics and morality of someone you admit you know nothing about?

    I say congrats Chris and good luck, you’ll need it. 😉

  21. Jonathan Lambert says:

    Look, M$ has done a lot of harm over the years (and not a lot of good IMHO) to browsers, and has a really bad reputation as a company that subly manipulates standards organizations and tries to "steer developers."  Every conference I go to has a M$ guy there with some vague job description like "developer relation guy" or something.  It’s really odd.  

    This is an organization that spent gobs of money crushing their browser competitors and giving away a product that required blood and tears, and working to implement closed standards that furthered first the goals of the organization, primariliy interoperability with their other products and operating systems. The concerns of anything but marketshare and the aforementioned application lock in were second, if they even got consideration.  We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but are they M$ Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  Can’t think of anything?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript (WTF man?), VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher which was neither open nor standard), etc, etc.  I myself really like the company, though I don’t use its products.  

    This is a person, whom I don’t know but who I am sure is a fine fellow, who is in the employment of said company.  There is a massive question about whether (regardless of who he is) there is a conflict of interest in him heading up the one of the most important technology redesigns the web is going to have for a while.

    Regardless of the person (and I know this is on his blog), or the situation’s specifics, it’s leads conceptually to some rather unpleasant questions and concerns.

    I would have the same argument about someone from Mozilla coming in to work on this, except that organization has no track record of crushing their competitors for profit.  The person who sets the agenda for the group (the ‘cat herder’) really would get some serious credibility if it were clear that they have no conflict of interest or potential influence from an organization that has a history of market manipulation.  I know that they get input into the process, but when you have a 700 lb sumo wrestler leading the meeting it’s hard to ignore him.

    I know you’ll probably stand in this position, and I know you’ll weigh these concerns.  But please consider quitting M$ if they try to influence this process – there is a major concern from those of us who work with the output of this process, and I don’t want to see M$ dominate the market because of furher "Open Standards" work.  I don’t even think it would be good for M$ strategically to do so – but it’s a concern nonetheless.

    I think it would be best put, "we would prefer someone who didn’t work for a market manipulating software company."  It’s like someone from Standard Oil working on a steering committee for future Oil Production Standards for the industry.  Doesn’t sound like it’s even possible to be objective does it?  And it begs the question of why M$ would be willing to pay an employee to work on this unless it has some output.

    Please prove me wrong, cause I think you’re already in there.  And I’m SURE you’re going to do a good job.  But I’m also sure you’re hearing this concern.  Oh, and I hope to meet you one day, as I’m sure knowing you personally would make me a lot less anxious about this.

    Jonathan Lambert

  22. Tim Chambers says:

    Standards ! … What standards ?

    You mean we have to follow someone elses logical and accepted rules. That’s not the MS way. We’re always right so you must be wrong.

    New analogy…

    The Government of MS announces a new rail line will be built between two cities. There is a large mountain between but MS has a few alternatives. They build a road around/over it instead. People and goods wanting to use the rail line must be transferred to road to the other side before continuing their rail journey. They would now like to join the rail lines but this would replace/cut the road. Maybe next year they say every year 🙂 The rail line works, the road works, but the system is a failure in the real world.

    There’s also a good MS software analogy with cars from several years ago.

  23. arunerblog says:

    This post is about the rechartering of the HTML Working Group, and AOL’s stance on the subject. Cross posted from dev.aol.com

  24. börsenspiel says:

    I haven’t noticed that any other group that operates their discussions in the public eye has any lack of humor and/or  joking between members.

    (a) Tell your lawyers and executives to get over themselves.

    (b) Get used to it.

    It really works quite well once people get used to it, and you get broader feedback at much higher rate than otherwise – there are always a ton of people not on the working group who will make good suggestions via other communication channels.

    And as any good engineer knows, the less delay in your feedback loop, the sooner you lock on a good target 🙂

  25. çeviri says:

    I agree that there are cases where WHATWG and IE6 will simply disagree (e.g. the cases where IE6 produces a DOM that’s not a tree).  But I think it still makes sense to have a description (possibly informative) that describes how parser error-handling should happen to be maximally compatible with existing content.  It’s a good idea for the health of HTML — it reduces the barrier to entry into HTML rendering…

  26. freddy says:

    there will be a lot of live information streamed from the event, and videos released afterward. http://visitmix.com/Blogs/Joshua/visitmix-from-home/

  27. emlak says:

    I know that’s been your goal in for error correction in the WHAT-WG.  We (MSFT) can’t change error-handling at ALL, because we’re locked into compat

  28. Bank zdjec says:

    I agree that there are cases where WHATWG and IE6 will simply disagree (e.g. the cases where IE6 produces a DOM that’s not a tree).  But I think it still makes sense to have a description (possibly informative) that describes how parser error-handling should happen to be maximally compatible with existing content.  It’s a good idea for the health of HTML — it reduces the barrier to entry into HTML rendering.

  29. Rudolf says:

    Thank science you took M$ weight off your shoulders and now can speak freely about everything you like, good or bad…

  30. Rudolf says:

    Thank science you took M$ weight off your shoulders and now can speak freely about everything you like, good or bad…

  31. Rudolf says:

    Thank science you took M$ weight off your shoulders and now can speak freely about everything you like, good or bad…

  32. Snin says:

    It really works quite well once people get used to it, and you get broader feedback at much higher rate than otherwise – there are always a ton of people not on the working group who will make good suggestions via other communication channels.

  33. Markus says:

    The Cause? part of the problem is the obvious defects at the application level – actionscripts/javascripts that are shiite, and using the damn Flash as a video delivery instead of a proper codec like h.264) …. but i suspect that theie are deep system issues in the event model & the thread model for osx itself that are also to blame.Thanks..!

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  35. Chris says:

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  38. keep up the your great work.

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  39. sac ekimi says:

    El grupo de trabajo que, dentro de la W3C, se encargará de la controvertida misión de "reinventar el HTML", estará liderado por Chris Wilson, el jefe del proyecto IE7. Este grupo de trabajo colaborará con WHATWG de evolucionar el HTML…

  40. markovich says:

    I should have mentioned that I don’t mean this personally.  As others have said, I’ve never met you and only saw you in online video.  I am commenting on your company and the company face you wear.  Neither has shown to be trustworthy.

  41. TMaxim says:

    I don’t think it makes the HTML WG (or other entities) look unprofessional if the public is able to see that the people behind are normal human beings that make fun of each other, make (human) errors, have different opinions etc.

  42. BaltikS says:

    I know that’s been your goal in for error correction in the WHAT-WG.  We (MSFT) can’t change error-handling at ALL, because we’re locked into compat

  43. TMaxim says:

    And how I can correct mistakes?

  44. Balterio says:

    We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript, VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher),

  45. EnxdesigN says:

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  48. Google reader is my reader of choice as well.  Good post with interesting points.

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  53. hımm of course thank u very much for this post

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  60. oda kapısı says:

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  61. RoMeO says:

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  62. RoMeO says:

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  65. Siyah Adam says:

    We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript, VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher), this is good idea

  66. seo says:

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  68. Lucas says:

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    "We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript, VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher), this is good idea"

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  69. kraloyun says:

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  70. AMG says:

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  71. sharp aquos says:

    I don’t think it makes the HTML WG (or other entities) look unprofessional if the public is able to see that the people behind are normal human beings that make fun of each other, make (human) errors, have different opinions etc.

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  75. e-Okul says:

    are normal human beings that make fun of each other, make (human) errors, have different opinions etc.

  76. Webdesign says:

    The WHATWG error handling rules as currently specified are as close to what IE6 and IE7 do as possible while still being implementable for Safari, Opera, Mozilla, and other browser vendors who have taken part in the work. Obviously not everything is the same (e.g. where IE6 crashes, the HTML5 spec requires something else) but by and large it is already as close to IE6 as possible. So not only would we consider doing what you describe, to a large extent, we’ve done it. In practice browser vendors have to do that anyway, whether it’s specced or not, due to the volumes of content on the Web depending on it. It’s better to have a spec than require reverse engineering (especially when your EULA might forbit the latter!).

  77. Tweak Vista says:

    The Government of MS announces a new rail line will be built between two cities. There is a large mountain between but MS has a few alternatives. They build a road around/over it instead. People and goods wanting to use the rail line must be transferred to road to the other side before continuing their rail journey.

  78. LFERC says:

    It really works quite well once people get used to it, and you get broader feedback at much higher rate than otherwise – there are always a ton of people not on the working group who will make good suggestions via other communication channels.

  79. Acting as chair of a W3C committee is akin to the Canadian governmental system, sometimes dubbed a parliamentary dictatorship. You have enormous influence and can round up all your friends on the committee via back channels. You can unilaterally cancel, or conspire with your cochair to cancel, anyone’s invited-expert status. You can and, according to W3 procedures, in some cases must ignore outside criticism. You can state that something was passed by consensus even if some people were in opposition.

  80. Webhosting says:

    Here’s a novel idea, why not give him the benefit of the doubt, see what happens over the course of his appointment and mark him based on what comes out of the HTML Working Group, instead of frothing at the mouth every time MS is mentioned and make blanket assumptions about the ethics and morality of someone you admit you know nothing about?

  81. Therial says:

    Here’s a novel idea, why not give him the benefit of the doubt, see what happens over the course of his appointment and mark him based on what comes out of the HTML Working Group, instead of frothing at the mouth every time MS is mentioned and make blanket assumptions about the ethics and morality of someone you admit you know nothing about?

  82. oda kapısı says:

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  91. Rick says:

    Given how stupid the results of the W3C has been in the past (CSS, anyone?) it makes me wish MS would just define a standard and put out a browser plugin for IE, Firefox to implement it. HTML and especially CSS is broken and needs a reboot. The open source idiots can’t come up with a coherent design if their life depends on it so just pass the baton to somebody that can

  92. The Government of MS announces a new rail line will be built between two cities.

  93. Obviously not everything is the same (e.g. where IE6 crashes, the HTML5 spec requires something else) but by and large it is already as close to IE6 as possible. So not only would we consider doing what you describe, to a large extent, we’ve done it. In practice browser vendors have to do that anyway, whether it’s specced or not, due to the volumes of content on the Web depending on it. It’s better to have a spec than require reverse engineering (especially when your EULA might forbit the latter!).

  94. indir.com says:

    why not give him the benefit of the doubt, see what happens over the course of his appointment and mark him based on what comes out of the HTML Working Group, instead of frothing at the mouth every time MS is mentioned and make blanket assumptions about the ethics and morality of someone you admit you know nothing about?

  95. Dizi says:

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  98. program says:

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  100. Faberlica says:

    This is an organization that spent gobs of money crushing their browser competitors and giving away a product that required blood and tears, and working to implement closed standards that furthered first the goals of the organization, primariliy interoperability with their other products and operating systems. The concerns of anything but marketshare and the aforementioned application lock in were second, if they even got consideration.  We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but are they M$ Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  Can’t think of anything?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript (WTF man?), VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher which was neither open nor standard), etc, etc.  I myself really like the company, though I don’t use its products.  

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  103. TMaxim says:

    I would have the same argument about someone from Mozilla coming in to work on this, except that organization has no track record of crushing their competitors for profit.  The person who sets the agenda for the group (the ‘cat herder’) really would get some serious credibility if it were clear that they have no conflict of interest or potential influence from an organization that has a history of market manipulation.  I know that they get input into the process, but when you have a 700 lb sumo wrestler leading the meeting it’s hard to ignore him.

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  106. keep up the your great work. Thanks

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  120. Forgive Rob. Like all web designers, he has been hurt by Microsoft in unforgivable ways. Not your fault Mr Wilson.

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  127. medyum says:

    Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have, I think it’s very good that it is a Microsoft employee (like you) that has taken the position as chairman of the HTML WG. I believe you will do an excellent job and even more importantly, I think you will do a good job of bringing the HTML WG’s work inside Microsoft and "evangalizing" about it there so future versions of Internet Explorer will comply better with the specification.

  128. medyum says:

    I would have the same argument about someone from Mozilla coming in to work on this, except that organization has no track record of crushing their competitors for profit.  The person who sets the agenda for the group (the ‘cat herder’) really would get some serious credibility if it were clear that they have no conflict of interest or potential influence from an organization that has a history of market manipulation.  I know that they get input into the process, but when you have a 700 lb sumo wrestler leading the meeting it’s hard to ignore him.

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  132. medyum says:

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  137. prefabrik says:

    El grupo de trabajo que, dentro de la W3C, se encargará de la controvertida misión de "reinventar el HTML", estará liderado por Chris Wilson, el jefe del proyecto IE7. Este grupo de trabajo colaborará con WHATWG de evolucionar el HTML…

  138. hımm of course thank u very much for this post

  139. oteller says:

    I think the last several comments miss my point.  I DO think that error-handling should be part of a spec; I DON’T think you can back-track that into html4.01 parsing.  If you want to put it in a new system, great – I’ve publicly stated that as essentially the reason we don’t support the XHTML MIME type yet, because I want to do it right and not mess up the error-handling (or more to the point, the lack thereof).

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  154. zayıflama says:

    Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have, I think it’s very good that it is a Microsoft employee (like you) that has taken the position as chairman of the HTML WG. I believe you will do an excellent job and even more importantly, I think you will do a good job of bringing the HTML WG’s work inside Microsoft and "evangalizing" about it there so future versions of Internet Explorer will comply better with the specification.

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  157. Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have

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  159. Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have, I think it’s very good that it is a Microsoft employee (like you) that has taken the position as chairman of the HTML WG. I believe you will do an excellent job and even more importantly, I think you will do a good job of bringing the HTML WG’s work inside Microsoft and "evangalizing" about it there so future versions of Internet Explorer will comply better with the specification.

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  163. ommon sense and the wishes of many New Yorkers in enacting this unnecessary bill. This government intrusion

  164. fx15 says:

    Thanks for this reassuring post, Chris. Although I’d like Microsoft to give you more time to invest in this extremely important task you now have, I think it’s very good that it is a Microsoft employee (like you) that has taken the position as chairman of the HTML WG. I believe you will do an excellent job and even more importantly, I think you will do a good job of bringing the HTML WG’s work inside Microsoft and "evangalizing" about it there so future versions of Internet Explorer will comply better with the specification

  165. I think the last several comments miss my point.  I DO think that error-handling should be part of a spec; I DON’T think you can back-track that into html4.01 parsing.  If you want to put it in a new system, great – I’ve publicly stated that as essentially the reason we don’t support the XHTML MIME type yet, because I want to do it right and not mess up the error-handling (or more to the point, the lack thereof).

  166. betsson says:

    I think the last several comments miss my point.  I DO think that error-handling should be part of a spec; I DON’T think you can back-track that into html4.01 parsing.  If you want to put it in a new system, great – I’ve publicly stated that as essentially the reason we don’t support the XHTML MIME type yet, because I want to do it right and not mess up the error-handling (or more to the point, the lack thereof).

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  168. medyum says:

    El grupo de trabajo que, dentro de la W3C, se encargará de la la liga controvertida misión de "reinventar el HTML", estará liderado por Chris Wilson, el jefe del proyecto IE7. Este grupo de trabajo karosu colaborará con WHATWG de evolucionar el HTML…

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  171. We all know there are a lot of really great engineers and people at Microsoft working for Open Standards, but Open Standards like so much of what the company has produced over the years?  ActiveX, DotNet, JScript, VBScript, C# (The "Open Standard" Java Crusher), this is good idea

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  198. laptop tamir I don't think it makes the HTML WG (or other entities) look unprofessional if the public is able to see that the people behind are normal human beings that make fun of each other, make (human) errors, have different opinions etc.

  199. yeah I agree; I'm not saying that you wouldn't be a good chairperson (I have no way to tell), but in my mind you've reaffirmed Daniel's original point.

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