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HTML Editing APIs specification ready for implementer feedback

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

(This is a cross-post from the mailing list, reformatted as HTML.)

Since February, I've been working on writing a detailed specification for browser editing, primarily the document.execCommand() and document.queryCommand*() methods. These were created by Microsoft in the 1990s and were subsequently adopted in some form by all other browsers, and today browsers have to implement them to be compatible with web content, but no detailed specification ever existed. Interoperability is practically nonexistent as a result, which has driven all major content editing frameworks away from using execCommand(). (For instance, I began typing this in WordPress' WYSIWYG editor, which uses TinyMCE – a major editor that avoids execCommand() entirely.) Hopefully we can start to fix that and make these APIs a part of the web platform that just works.

The current version of the specification is about fifty pages printed, and supersedes the Editing APIs section of HTML (which is more like two pages). In the style of modern web specs, it is phrased in terms of algorithms that attempt to cover all corner cases unambiguously and leave no behavior undefined, and it tries to match the behavior of existing browsers to the greatest extent possible. At this point, it's stable and complete enough that I believe it's ready for serious review by implementers, and I would like as much detailed feedback as possible.

There is a basically complete JavaScript implementation, which is used to produce expected results for a largely undocumented and entirely ad hoc test suite. I used the tests as an aid to writing the spec, and they probably aren't well suited to aid implementers in implementing it. I will probably get around to porting them to something like testharness.js at some point. I haven't tried testing my implementation on real-world sites, only on artificial input, so I don't know at this point how implementable it really is, but the JS implementation means that it at least has large parts that make sense.

Anyone reviewing the spec should be advised that I put extensive rationale in HTML comments. If you want to know why the spec says what it does, check the HTML source. I plan to change this to use <details> or such in the near future. There are lots of minor known issues still left, but none that I thought was important enough that it needs to delay review. Feedback can be sent to the whatwg list, CCing me, with [editing] in the subject. (I'm also fine receiving feedback on public-html or public-webapps, but I don't know if the chairs would be okay with that, since it's off-topic.) I should be available to respond to all feedback promptly at least through the end of August. After that, I can't make specific guarantees about my availability, but I do plan to continue maintaining the spec in the long term.

Posted in WHATWG | 3 Comments »

WHATWG Weekly: End of HTML5 Last Call

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Next week Wednesday, August 3, the W3C HTML5 Last Call review period ends. Consider taking another look and giving some feedback!

Here is a quick rundown of what happened last week:

Since the summer causes a slowdown of everything standards, the next WHATWG Weekly is in two weeks.

Posted in WHATWG | No Comments »

The WHATWG Forums

Monday, March 21st, 2011

First thing's first. Hi my name is Liam Hockley, I am a recent addition to the admin team on the WHATWG forums and I have been working on improving the site over the past couple of weeks. (forums.whatwg.org)

The first thing I did, was update the forum software from the severely outdated phpBB2, to the fresh new phpBB3. This process went fairly smoothly. Next I created a new forum section to facilitate the discussion of forums/website ideas and feedback. On top of this, the other admins and myself  have been working to make sure spam is not and will not be an issue moving forward.

The next step and what we are currently working on, is to try and get the forums more active. I would like to encourage you to use the forums and tell all of your friends. This could serve as a great base for compelling discussion and debate on the HTML spec.

In the future, I plan to try and implement integration of the twitter RSS feed and potentially an RSS feed of the WHATWG mailing list. There is also an effort in place on the part of phpBB, to modernize their markup to follow the latest HTML spec in upcoming releases. We will most certainly be taking advantage of that once it becomes possible.

Anyways, thank you for reading. If you get a chance, check out the forums and drop us a line.

-Liam "Xdega" Hockley

Posted in WHATWG | 3 Comments »

webm.html5.org

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

As support for WebM is ramping up, Web authors can start using it. However, since not everyone has a WebM-enabled browser, yet, using WebM on your site poses the problem of having to explain to the visitors of your site how they can view WebM. It is inefficient for everyone to have to do this from scratch on their sites. Also, chances are that per-site help text will be incomplete and out of date soon.

To address this problem, with hosting and domain name help from Anne van Kesteren, I have made webm.html5.org as a place to pool the effort. When you publish WebM content, instead of explaining which browsers support WebM, you can simply link to webm.html5.org and it will detect if the user’s browser supports WebM. If the browser doesn’t support WebM, the page will suggest upgrading the browser to a new version that supports WebM, installing a WebM decoder if the browser supports 3rd-party decoders and one is available, switching to another browser or using another operating system (as applicable and in that order).

The dull visual appearance of the page is a known problem. Visual design isn’t my strong point. I have also avoided using logos without permission. If you’d like to contribute nicer CSS or a nicer-looking (but still short and on-topic) test clip, please find hsivonen on the #whatwg IRC channel on Freenode. Also, if you can contribute accurate advice for platforms that aren’t already covered (e.g. FreeBSD, AIX or OS/2), please drop a line on IRC or in the comments here. (You can view source on webm.html5.org to see what is already covered.)

Posted in WHATWG | 16 Comments »

HTML is the new HTML5

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

In 2009 we announced that the HTML5 specification at the WHATWG was progressing to Last Call. The plan at the time was to finish the specification this year and publish a snapshot of "HTML5" in 2012. However, shortly after that we realised that the demand for new features in HTML remained high, and so we would have to continue maintaining HTML and adding features to it before we could call "HTML5" complete, and as a result we moved to a new development model, where the technology is not versioned and instead we just have a living document that defines the technology as it evolves.

As there is still interest in publishing a snapshot of HTML5, the W3C is still working on that (in conjunction with the WHATWG).

Because the specification is now a living document, we are today announcing two changes:

  1. The HTML specification will henceforth just be known as "HTML", with the URL http://whatwg.org/html. (We will also continue to maintain the Web Applications 1.0 specification that contains HTML and a number of related APIs like Web Storage, Web Workers, and Server-Sent Events.)
  2. The WHATWG HTML spec can now be considered a "living standard". It's more mature than any version of the HTML specification to date, so it made no sense for us to keep referring to it as merely a draft. We will no longer be following the "snapshot" model of spec development, with the occasional "call for comments", "call for implementations", and so forth.

In practice, the WHATWG has basically been operating like this for years, and indeed we were going to change the name last year but ended up deciding to wait a bit since people still used the term "HTML5" a lot. However, the term is now basically being used to mean anything Web-standards-related, so it's time to move on!

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask them in the comments or on IRC. We'll update the FAQ with the most commonly asked questions.

Posted in WHATWG | 152 Comments »