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Microsoft Suggests Carving Up HTML 5 113

dp619 writes "HTML 5 is extensive and may take years to complete. Microsoft's solution to hasten its development is to carve it up. The company wants to divide HTML 5 into sub-specifications overseen by different working groups. Internet Explorer platform architect Chris Wilson said that HTML 5 features including its Canvas APIs, offline caching of Web applications' resources, persistent client-side data storage, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networking connection framework would be useful outside of HTML. The WC3 seems to be receptive to the idea and says that a consensus is forming among working group members to do just that."
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Microsoft Suggests Carving Up HTML 5

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  • Embrace, Extend! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Gewalt ( 1200451 )
    what comes after that again?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by snoyberg ( 787126 )
      As much as we all hate Microsoft, I think this is genuinely a good idea. Can't we put aside our biases and consider this proposal on its own merits?
      • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:29AM (#23183672)
        Well we should carefully consider whether it's a trap or not. I mean Microsoft isn't always wrong, but they have a strong track record of evil. It bears examining their proposal closely to see if you can spot the evil machinations.
        • IMHO, I get the impression that M$ no longer cares much about IE. This is a fine time when M$ could easily lead everyone by showing an IE with HTML 5.0, CSS 2.0, SVG 1.1, and XSLT 2.0 capabilities. They certainly do not lack for capitol, and their development staff in India are certainly up to the job; They just need a nod from the DOS Guru himself.
        • Only real possibility of a trap here is that
          a) Microsoft claims development over those specific technonlogies and patents them (patenting them likely, but they'll do that anyway)
          b) They just don't implement chunks of those technologies, leaving the web development community high and dry for some time (again, they'll probably do that anyway)

          I actually have to agree with MS on this one. Client-side databases & such are exciting, and increase the possibility of offline web apps, but HTML is a *marku

      • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#23183870) Homepage
        Yeah. Microsoft can be okay. Even a stopped clock is right once a day!


        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mrmagos ( 783752 )
          Strange, all my broken clocks are correct twice a day. Do you do out of your way to purchase 24-hour clocks and break them? I thought my hobbies were weird....
          • by Ifni ( 545998 )
            Mine are right FOUR times a day, thanks to the Time Cube [timecube.com].
            • A broken ship's clock could be right six times a day for the right kind of breakage. Well, except in the Royal Navy for the second dogs watch. So only 5.5 times a day for them.

              A broken regular chiming clock could be right 24 times a day.
            • By the Time Cube logic (four simultaneous days, one in each of four time zones), a stopped clock is right 24 times a day.
            • Twice a day (12 hour clock), four simultaneous days, isn't that 8 times a day that a stopped clock would be right?

              I prefer "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while"
          • Strange, all my broken clocks are correct twice a day. Do you do out of your way to purchase 24-hour clocks and break them? I thought my hobbies were weird....
            Actually, sir, that's what my little shifty-eyes were about. I know they don't explicitly go out and say "I'm being mildly facetious here and I just KNOW someone is going to point out my deliberate error", so you'll just have to trust me on this one.
        • My glock is never broken. Oh, clock!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Metasquares ( 555685 )
        I agree. Hearing all of the things that they want to put in it now, I'm not really sure that a lot of them belong in HTML anyway. It seems like we're trying to stuff everything that was hot over the last 10 years into a language that was meant to be used purely for website markup.
        • by Morlark ( 814687 )

          While you certainly have a point, I think this all seems more sensible if you try to look at it from the other direction. Yes, they're stuffing all of this new stuff into HTML. But that's because the web itself has become more than purely websites with markup, and HTML does need to catch up with that.

          These days the web has become a platform for a much richer experience (ugh, I feel all dirty using horrible marketing phrases like that). I'd rather that experience was grounded solidly in HTML, rather than r

    • what comes after that again?
    • by CTalkobt ( 81900 )
      >> Embrace, Extend!
      >> what comes after that again?

      4. Profit?

    • Software date rape?
  • If Anyone Else... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <<ten.liamhsart> <ta> <egihaka>> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:16AM (#23183422) Homepage Journal
    If anyone else were to suggest this approach, you'd all be saying, "Makes sense."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tangent128 ( 1112197 )
      True. Microsoft actually does have technical ideas worth considering. However, I wouldn't want to see Microsoft politically in charge of any of these efforts, given the influence of their marketing department.
    • it would make sense if it was anyone else
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Actually, it doesn't make sense. Under that scenario, you could have different sub-groups interpreting the specs in varying, contradictory ways, and end up with supposedly "conforming" implementations that break other sub-groups' work. We've already got too much of that in the browser world, and the chief villain has always been Microsoft.

        • This where the role of a neutral over-seer comes in - this sort of division of labor is the rule in the game industry - you just have to have a good "director" above it all making sure it works together
        • by jd ( 1658 )
          You don't have to go that far. Microsoft simply picks one or two of its technologies that work well with one group of the things that needs defining, and makes sure that it defines that group according to how its technology works. Instant specification. Better yet, the specification can then be completely open as the only way to implement it "correctly" is via a technology Microsoft has patented, and since that's how all IE browsers will implement it, that is how those elements will be understood and used b
    • your forgetting the part where MSFT wants to insert patented, and propitiatory technology into their section of the "standard". Stuff only they can ever implement properly. Just like OOXML. No one, not even MSFT can implement it properly. Just like SMB/CIFS documenting the protocol that MSFT had to create from scratch, as it wasn't documented properly inside MSFT.

      MSFT has done it before and continues to do so. MSFT can't change without a complete workplace management change. Basically firing every man
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gutboy ( 587531 )
        I've said this before but I'm going to say it again.

        Before anyone can work on a standard, their company must agree to donate any patents that become part of the standard to the standards org, and the standards org must allow any patents they own to be used for no charge. The original company can say "no" to the use of their patent in the standard. If any patented stuff 'accidently' gets placed into the standard, it is up to the company to notice and reject the use of their patented stuff. Failure to do so
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by peragrin ( 659227 )
          Yet your missing the fine print. There are Patents on OOXML, The Patent license which MSFT lets others duplicate OOXML specifically doesn't allow licenses that redistribute the patented software.

          so you can't write an OOXML parser with the GPL, Apache, MPL, and several other licenses. Yet the ISO still allowed it to pass.

          Enjoy the fine print. MSFT owns souls because of it. MP3 decoders are the same way. MSFT isn't the only company to endorse a standard that can't be implemented by anyone because of pate
          • by Gutboy ( 587531 )
            I read the fine print, I just believe that any standards org that allows patented tech into a standard is just a shill for the company that owns the patent.
            • by jd ( 1658 )
              Oh, c'mon, be real. If it's Microsoft we're talking about, then ISO isn't just a schill. They're a very very well-paid schill.
    • by Fozzyuw ( 950608 )

      If anyone else were to suggest this approach, you'd all be saying, "Makes sense."

      I disagree with this idea. This will just cause even more pain for web developers who will be forced to do incremental HTML 5 checking to see if a users browser supports "shiny new HTML 5 standard" or not. Then iterate that out across other browsers, who will probably implement things faster than the IE, given their history.

      Nope, bad idea. Release it when it's finished. Thank you.

      • It probably does make sense, but who the suggestion is coming from is the problem. Of course the MS guy on the committee vs the actual developers is probably totally separate departments.

        I agree with you that HTML 5 should be a clean break. Put all the eggs in the basket, require them ALL to be there and leave behind anybody that can't keep up. We're still bickering about CSS2 specs that came out BEFORE IE6 and are still incorrectly implemented. A fresh reboot with the latest specs is a very good thing
    • If you ignore the fact that Microsoft is working on Silverlight, then sure, it makes some sense. In reality Microsoft is working on Silverlight and its motives are suspect.
    • If anyone else were to suggest this approach, none of us would suspect foul play.
    • by Nurgled ( 63197 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @12:54PM (#23185462)

      I don't really care who's suggesting it; I've been thinking similar things myself. The amount of content in HTML5 is getting ridiculous. If none of it can be declared final until it's all done then there's going to be uncertainty surrounding it for a long time to come, and that'll either put off implementors or lead to the spec hanving to be backward-compatible with earlier drafts of itself and it'll be years before there's interop between browsers.

      • Re:If Anyone Else... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hixie ( 116369 ) <ian@hixie.ch> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @06:08PM (#23190512) Homepage
        Actually the spec has an annotation system where you can see how stable each section is, so we've somewhat side-stepped the issue of the whole thing not being done being a blocker for smaller parts.

        In practice, implementors (including Microsoft!) are happily implementing HTML5 already.

        Making the one spec be a bazillion smaller specs wouldn't stop us from having to make sure that each bit is compatible with implementations of that bit. Also, a smaller spec doesn't necessarily go much faster through the system than a big spec. Just look at XMLHttpRequest, which used to be part of HTML5 -- it's been split off for years, but it's still far from being a REC, and that's for a spec that's actually just describing existing browsers! This isn't anyone's fault, it's just that specs take a long time to get right. Anne's doing a great job on that spec, and I'm really glad he took it out of HTML5.

        Hopefully other editors will come up and volunteer to take other things out of HTML5. Several people have tried; we have a very poor success rate for these specs. Generally, things that get taken out just languish and die a slow death until I fold them back into HTML5.
    • You know, you're right. I suppose that means we should be asking, "How come nobody else suggested this?" I mean it's not exactly a unique idea, how come Microsoft had to suggest it?

      Is there some reason why Microsoft, THE largest enemy of openness in software, would suggest this and nobody else would? The same company who typically loses most when there's open development outside of their company? The same company who has a terrible track record of support in the browser space?

      That's the kind of thi
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      I don't see how this is an argument. If a convicted serial murder known for his knife skills was to ask you to throw him a knife so he could slice an apple, wouldn't you _at least_ give it more careful thought?
      • I don't see how this is an argument. If a convicted serial murder known for his knife skills was to ask you to throw him a knife so he could slice an apple, wouldn't you _at least_ give it more careful thought?

        You're asking if I'd hand OJ a knife? Am I dating his ex?

        Uh, wait...too soon?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If anyone else were to suggest this approach, you'd all be saying, "Makes sense."

      Not if you were actually reading the HTML Working Group mailing list, you wouldn't. If you'd been reading the messages related to the subject, you'd know that the spec editor Ian Hickson has thus far not had a problem keeping all the content in a single specification, that there's a lack of editors to handle more specifications, that there are many interdependencies within the specification that make it difficult to modularize,

    • by eof ( 33820 )
      As others have said, it's not a bad idea. The problem is that Microsoft has a reputation of poor behavior when it comes to standards work, so naturally one questions their motives.
    • I think HTML5 is "doomed". I quoted doomed because it will happen, but it's a mess. The big problem is its name. I don't like mixing payload with transport. HTML can be delivered over a zillion different transports, hell even carrier pigeon. HTTP can be used to transport all kinds of bits and bytes. HTML5 is really Browser-Spec-5 which covers everything and the kitchen sink.
    • I dunno about that.

      It's not like it is a new approach - the W3C (which includes MS) already used it with XHTML 1.1 and 2.0, CSS 3 etc.

      Maybe it hasn't been used so far for HTML 5 because it was the recent W3C approach which has failed in the eyes of the HTML 5 crowd - after all, what has become of XHTML 1.1/2.0 and CSS 3?

      Note: I actually would prefer XHTML 2 to HTML 5, but realistically it too much to ask for and decent browser support would never eventuate.
    • once a thief....
  • New TLA? (Score:4, Funny)

    by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:17AM (#23183462) Journal
    The WC3...

    Damn that Water Closet Three!
    • Come on now, it's obvious they meant Warcraft 3. I, for one, welcome the addition of Undead and Night Elves to the HTML 5 spec.
    • Damn that Water Closet Three! For any Americans in the room, that's a toilet. Oddly enough, the abbreviation also seems to have worked its way into most European languages and cultures as well.
    • nonono.. not water closet 3, warcraft 3.. get your facts straight from the cow (in the cow level)
  • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:18AM (#23183468) Homepage

    This is pretty standard for Microsoft. I mean they've always only supported part of the specification. Now, I guess they're making this lack of full support explicit.

    In one way though, this is a good thing. If Microsoft says we'll only support sub-specifications A, B, and C, then web developers will have a better idea as to what restrictions they're working under to create cross platform sites. It'd be an improvement over the current system, which seems to consist of coding for one browser, and then going through and testing/experimenting with the other browser to see what's broken.

  • Could Microsoft please, possible just leave HTML 5 and XHTML 2 alone, and simply follow the standards produced? Pretty please?
    • I understand they're working on an ISO-OOXML compliant office suite.
    • While I agree with the sentiment of your post, I have to say that doing things (especially large projects) in a modular fashion does make sense.

      Seen from a different view, USB 2 and USB 1 standards are not incompatible, and worked well. There are devices that are not USB2 compliant, but work with systems that are.

      In terms like that, if MS wants to tell the world that they will only be compliant with USB1, let them. While the rest of the world works and becomes compliant with version 2. The real problems wou
  • Everything has to be modular [slashdot.org]?
  • I think Microsoft should be required to finish WinFS before being trusted with a component of HTML 5.
  • RISKY but wise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:30AM (#23183712)
    There are a few risks. The biggest one is if any of the teams slip behind or run ahead of schedule. If that happens, pieces will begin to fall out of sync.

    however, the biggest benefit would be to web developers if this goes through as planned. I'd appreciate a properly modularized HTML5 myself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FiloEleven ( 602040 )
      Only if they keep it split up for further development. From what I understand, HTML 5 is a huge overhaul that adds tons of new functionality. This takes a big initial effort. I would guess that once all the pieces are in place, improvements and changes will be small enough that a concurrent rollout of each module will be quite feasible and avert the scenario you suggest.
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:33AM (#23183766)

    If anyone else were to suggest this approach, you'd all be saying, "Makes sense."
    If it were anyone else but Microsoft, we might be willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt.
    • "Makes sense" does not require the benefit of the doubt. All it requires is considering what was said. If an argument makes sense, then who said it doesn't make it any more or less "making sense". Now if we were to consider if Microsoft will do this right, that is a whole new issue all together. Will they? Probably not. Is it a good idea? Yes, it makes sense. Divide the work, and things get done faster.

      In this case at the very least Microsoft might not claim they implemented the standard when, in fac
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is there still a point to HTML5 then though?

    Wouldn't it be better to just take the existing XHTML and extend it seeing as that's the point of XHTML? That it's eXtensible?
  • Kitchen Sink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @11:46AM (#23184050) Homepage

    On the one hand, I want to say that this sounds reasonable, despite it being suggested by Microsoft.

    On the other hand I want to say... WTF?!? Why does a markup language need all that crap anyway? Persistent local storage? What does that have to do with page markup?

    I'm not saying that these other things are bad or unnecessary. Just that they shouldn't be part of the HTML spec. Just like CSS and JavaScript are both widely used with HTML, but are defined in their own separate complementary specs.

    I suppose the real reason for the kitchen sink approach is pragmatic. As explained in TFA, no one has volunteered to take over individual parts. But if nobody cares enough to commit to that, maybe nobody really cares about the result either and those other parts are unnecessary? I say keep HTML as a markup language, add hooks for other things, and let those other things be specified if and when someone actually cares enough to do it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The browser makers and web designers really pushed for WHATAG standards and were about to push HTML5 over top of the W3C. It's a standard made of what people that WRITE web pages and people that WRITE web browsers want to see changed/fixed versus the last 8 years that nothing much has changed. Web designers need to have ALL the parts there, and browser makers need everybody to develop at the same time so people USE the specs.

      I'd like to see a rollout schedule more than anything else. Release each module
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hixie ( 116369 )
        I'd love to be able to make the Web browser developers not implement anything but what the spec says. However, they don't obey us. :-)

        Better to have a spec for them to follow than to say "no, implement the rest first!" and have them make up their own thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hixie ( 116369 )
      Until I started working on HTML5, there was no spec that defined "window" (as in, window.location, window.document, etc), there was no spec that defined XMLHttpRequest, there was no spec that defined the details of how to talk between iframes, etc. Does this mean nobody cares about those either?
    • by Zebra_X ( 13249 )
      "On the other hand I want to say... WTF?!? Why does a markup language need all that crap anyway? Persistent local storage? What does that have to do with page markup? "

      Which is why it should be broken up... they don't have anything to do with HTML.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...carving up Microsoft!

    You all know it makes sense.
  • no thanks. save your shit, just for once.
  • Business plan (Score:3, Informative)

    by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Thursday April 24, 2008 @12:27PM (#23184892) Homepage
    1) complain about how slow HTML 5 is coming along
    2) implement HTML 5 early; broken and unfinished
    3) web developers use IE HTML 5
    4) even after HTML 5 comes out, most web developers are confused as to the difference between HTML 5 and IE HTML 5
    5) non IE web browsers have a tough time implementing HTML 5, and trying to render broken web pages
    6) ????
    7) Profit!!!

    Also, what does Warcraft III have to do with anything?
  • by hixie ( 116369 ) <ian@hixie.ch> on Thursday April 24, 2008 @05:44PM (#23190062) Homepage
    I'm the editor of HTML5, and I agree entirely with Microsoft here (and they're far from the only people saying this). The problem is that we have very few competent specification editors, and if we did have some, there are literally dozens of specifications that are really important to the Web that need editors. Splitting the spec wouldn't make the Web platform grow any faster, it would just mean big parts of the spec would languish even longer.
  • CSS3 got cut up into modules, and there was a long period of bickering about them, and CSS3 still isn't here.

    Putting the product manager of the least compliant browser in charge of the next generation of HTML is like appointing a career street criminal as Attorney General.

    I have no trouble believing that HTML5 is being delayed so that MS has enough time to implement it correctly.

    (XHTML2 > HTML5)

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