February 14, 2010

Adobe is “sabotaging” HTML5??

In a word, bullshit.

Apple Insider–via an article whose writer can’t be bothered even to spell the names of several participants (Ian Hickson, Dave McAllister) correctly, to say nothing of doing other fact checking–accuses Adobe of saying one thing (that it supports the development of HTML5 and other standards) while working to delay & destroy those standards. Wow–so lurid, it must be true!!

Um, no. Here’s a clarifying comment from Adobe rep Larry Masinter:

No part of HTML5 is, or was ever, “blocked” in the W3C HTML Working Group — not HTML5, not Canvas 2D Graphics, not Microdata, not Video — not by me, not by Adobe.

Neither Adobe nor I oppose, are fighting, are trying to stop, slow down, hinder, oppose, or harm HTML5, Canvas 2D Graphics, Microdata, video in HTML, or any of the other significant features in HTML5.

Claims otherwise are false. Any other disclaimers needed?

There are some things that are wrong with the spec I’d like to see fixed. There are some things that are really, really, wrong with the process that I’d like to improve.

I’ve been working on web standards since the beginning of the web in the early 90s, and standards for even longer; long before I joined Adobe. My opinions don’t come from Adobe, and I don’t get approval or direction. I hate to see decades of work on web architecture messed up in the short-term interest of grabbing control of the web platform for a few vendors to own. If you think that position doesn’t match what you imagine Adobe’s position is, well, I’m glad Adobe’s planning to support HTML5 in its products.

As for the HTML standards process: I’ve worked in scores of standards groups in IETF and W3C, as well as a few others here and there, and I’ve never seen anything as bad as this one, with people abusing their official positions to grandstand and promote proprietary advantage. I’ve blogged some about this, but I’d rather fix things along.

I think progress of HTML5 in W3C could be faster if the subsections on graphics and metadata could (if not now, then eventually) be moved to separate subgroups focused on those topics. The organization of work in W3C is determined by the “charters” of working group and the “scope” of he charters, so saying work is “out of scope” even if you are marking a snapshot of the (already published) documents as “Working Draft”, means you might rewrite the “Status of This Document” section to say that it might move. That’s what I was asking for, in the somewhat stilted language of “objection”.

If you want to know who is sending in technical objections, you can see the working group mailing list at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/. And if you want to see more of my opinions, I’m also on the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) and post there a lot, see http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/; the TAG often discusses HTML5.

Any more questions about my opinion? My email address should be easy to find.

I should note that I’m not involved in Adobe’s relationships with these standards bodies. Others with more direct involvement will likely share more detail soon. In the meantime, I’m posting this for two reasons:

  1. A number of people have posted angry, accusatory comments here & via my Twitter feed, demanding an explanation.
  2. I’m angry and depressed about the total ignorance/laziness of online “journalists” and the sheer credulity of their readers. For God’s sake, guys, do the most rudimentary due diligence before you start defaming people who’ve devoted their entire careers to the advancement of standards. Have enough respect for your profession to take the impact of your words seriously.

Addendum: Here are some comments from an HTML WG member, Shelley Powers, who is not affiliated with Adobe:

I’m a member of the HTML WG, but I’m not speaking for the HTML WG, or W3C. I’m only expressing my opinion, and what I know to be facts. I’m also not an employee of Google, Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, or any other company (I’m a writer, for O’Reilly).

There is no truth to this rumor. The posting here is inaccurate. Grossly inaccurate I would add.

This was an issue that has been under discussion, off and on, on the publicly accessible HTML WG for months. It has to do with scope and charter, not the specifications themselves. The Adobe representative to the HTML WG registered his concerns about the fact that the HTML WG is working on specifications that push, or exceed the group’s charter. This includes Microdata, RDFa-in-HTML, and the 2D Canvas API.

Adobe is not blocking any specification. There are dozens of issues that are “blocking” HTML5, if you want to use that term, of which I’m responsible for many at this time. Technically the HTML5 specification can’t advance to Last Call status until these issues are resolved. However, the W3C management can override my issues, and the issues of any individual or company. No one company can block the advancement of any specification without the concurrence of the W3C leadership.

All of these issues are based on improving all of the specifications, including HTML5 and Canvas. it’s unfortunate that the HTML5 editor, who is also the Google representative to the HTML WG introduced such wild, and unfounded speculation, causing harm not only to the Adobe representative, but distracting all of us from the work of finishing the HTML5 and other specifications.

I would hope that people would seek to get confirmation before posting unfounded accusations.

Posted by John Nack at 11:22 PM on February 14, 2010
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