Ed Bilodeau

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This weblog had moved: http://www.coolweblog.com/bilodeau/

# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)

Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.

Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Daniel Lemire writing about the apparent sorry state of XML schema: Don't touch XML Schema:
"This tells us that W3C, which was doing a reasonable job up to now, has fallen in a big way and, among the good things they still do, produces crap. They are no longer the reference as far as the web is concerned."

I think it is important to note that the W3C is more of a process then anything else. That the process doesn't guarantee a high-quality result shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I'm sure that some of the few who work directly for the W3C as well as some of the many participants in the process would acknowledge this.

So while you can criticize the W3C when there is breakdown in process, any problems with the product can only be laid at the feet of the people who were involved in writing the spec. Looking at the group's charter page
, I notice that the identities of the group members are confidential, although you could probably scan the group's comments and dev mailing lists to find some of them. Ask them.

The main comment I wanted to make here, though, was to point out that it does not follow that one bad spec invalidates the W3C, their processes, or any of the other work they have done, are doing, or will do.

It does illustrate the importance for people who care about the evolution of the web to be actively involved in its development. The W3C process is built upon this premise of participation. There is no excuse for sitting on the side lines. As a friend of mine often says, "if it is important enough to you, you'll make the time."

Comments:

Let's be clear about this: W3C is not a process. W3C is an organization making recommendations. The W3C *recommends* (as I'm writting this) that we adopt XML Schema. The question I ask is... what is the W3C endorsement worth? Well, it should be worth a lot less to you now that we have proof that they've let something really bad slip. The consequences are huge: I know, personnally, many people who have lot months of their life trying to make their project work with XML Schema. All in vain. W3C should pull out XML Schema and stop recommending it. They don't. They keep endorsing it despite the mounting evidence.
 
Although the W3C is an organization, i still think that in the context of the discussion it is more useful to focus on the process aspect of the work they do.

It is clear by their process document that the initiation, development, and recommendation of a specification is a community effort in which the W3C plays an advisory and supporting role. Of course, they do have a seat at the table, and get to have input on the direction and details of the specification.

If the spec made it to recommendation stage, it is only because there exists a community that supported it to that stage. If there are errors, there is a process for them to be corrected, and even for the entire spec to be recinded.

The latter, which I understand you are recommending, happens when "W3C learns of significant errors in the Recommendation", which I grant you is sufficiently vague to allow a bad spec to go on existing for a (too?) long time.

In any case, my interest is in the community process that resulted in a bad spec. I'd love to see a summary of the backstory of what happened here. I can think of one person who might have some scoop..

On a slight tangent: would you happen to have a direct reference to the quote in your original post? I've scanned back over a year and can't find it.
 
I dug up the original post:

http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200506/msg00261.html

Anyone interested in this should read the reply and the author's reply as well, since it sheds more light on this issue (esp re: quality of XML schema)
 
Thanks Ed for inviting me here.

Daniel,

that would be perfectly acceptable that you find W3C XML Schemas not usable for your projects. As I always say, choose the right tools for the right tasks. XML Schemas are used though in a number of heavy applications like at Oracle for example.

There's nothing wrong about using RelaxNG if you prefer it. Technologies are not a religion, there are part of a social process where groups get together to build a consensus around a set of requirements. You seem to misunderstand the goal of W3C or any kind of standard organizations. They are professionnals and experts in a domain who get together and decided to put their resources in common to create a technical specification. At W3C, it's made at consensus as explained in the W3C Process. It has costs and doesn't achieve the perfect solution, because perfect doesn't exist. We are not talking about faith here, we are talking about technologies built on consensus: Social process.

I wonder also how one version of a technology made the whole organization irrelevant. You'll have to explain me that. I wonder if you really understand how the W3C is working. But like you are in Montreal, and I'm in Montreal too (for 2 months more), I'll be happy to share a beer or a coffee with you and Ed Bilodeau and explain how the W3C works, if you think it's interesting for you.

Best.

--
Karl Dubost
W3C Conformance Manager
http://www.w3.org/People/karl/
 
Thanks Karl. I didn't say W3C was made irrelevant. However, in my mind, it shifted from being *the* reference about web technology, to being *a* reference on web technology.
 

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