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   RE: [xml-dev] Is W3C Losing the Plot?

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The biggest problem with the W3C is the impression in industry that every XML technology must be either a W3C technology or blessed by it. The unfortunate side effect of this is that every W3C recommendation is treated as the ONE TRUE STANDARD (be it XML query, XML schema, XML protocols, etc) so every industry and academic interest group has to have a hand in creating what becomes a bloated, complex, special case ridden, internally and externally inconsistent standard  which is then foisted upon the industry. 
The few working groups I have been in direct or indirect contact with have shown me the error of expecting any sort of "grand unified vision" from the W3C. Even at the working group level there are too many contradictory constituencies and interests to create a unified vision for individual XML technologies let alone for all of XML or the World Wide Web. 
The real question is not whether the W3C is losing the plot but whether the W3C ever had the plot to begin with. 

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: AndrewWatt2000@aol.com [mailto:AndrewWatt2000@aol.com] 
	Sent: Fri 8/30/2002 12:11 PM 
	To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org 
	Subject: [xml-dev] Is W3C Losing the Plot?

	If you opened this post expecting some virulent diatribe against W3C you will
	likely be disappointed. What I think I am trying to articulate is much more
	in the nature of a vague uneasiness ... a recurrent finding of frayed edges
	and attempting to analyse why so many frayed edges seem to be around at the
	moment. ... And perhaps for my own forward planning an initial attempt to
	diagnose how serious or mild, how temporary or enduring these frayed edges
	might be.
	In keeping with this list's focus and several of my own interests this post
	relates primarily to W3C's XML Activity (in the broadest sense).
	I guess the immediate stimulus to making this post is having spent the best
	part of the last two days battling through the latest XForms WD and finding
	basic error after basic error. Typo after typo. And, what seem to me at
	least, to be some substantive likely design errors.  I know that many of the
	people in the XForms WG are far from stupid so why wasn't the WD in better
	How much of the problem is caused by people pulling out of the WG as firms
	"right size" or disappear? Or, more subtly, as firms are under more financial
	pressure in a downturn is the time of WG members for non-core activities (as
	their employers see it) being squeezed? They are there in spirit but less
	often "in body"? Or maybe the spirit is willing but the schedule is weak? :)
	If WG members are not going to do the bulk of tidying of specifications then
	who will (generally speaking) have the time to do it? If that tedious task
	isn't done are we likely to see more specifications which are visibly flakey?
	Having specifications with lengthy Errata pages is good for nobody.
	Maybe the problem (specifically for XForms and more generally) is due to the
	sheer difficulty of keeping up with the volume of specifications coming from
	W3C in the last year or two. ... XForms in particular has a large number of
	interactions with other specifications ... I know how much time I invest in
	trying to keep up. I don't expect it to be any easier for WG members.
	Maybe Parkinson's Law (have I got the right one?) is kicking in. Maybe the
	W3C has risen to the level of its own incompetence?
	Could that be a good thing?
	If W3C slows down a bit that is maybe a good thing since it would give the
	developer community (broadly speaking) time to catch up.
	Of course ideally the number of specifications should go down and the quality
	But such a precisely focussed range of activity presupposes a coherent
	strategy. Here again frayed edges emerge. Or do I mean turf wars? Does the
	W3C have a coherent overarching strategy? I wonder. How, for example, is XML
	to be linked? XLink or anti-XLink? :) ... I could go on.
	When I go searching for the background to some (to me) odd design decisions
	in the XForms WD there seems (at least to my eyes) to be pretty obvious
	specification drift. So how did that come about? Partly, I suspect, because
	of the lack of explicit use cases in the original Requirements document. A
	failure in procedure? Or just another "frayed edge"?
	But is the seeming XForms drift part of a more general XML drift? I suspect
	it is. But is it "drift" or sensible adaptation?
	The lack of clear use cases for XForms seems to me to feed through into lack
	of clarity in where XForms is going. But then, perhaps more importantly,
	where is XML at the W3C going? Is W3C rowing back from "generic XML" on the
	Web to a more conservative (more flat earth??) position of spinning out the
	durability of HTML/XHTML for as long as possible?
	But what of strategic planning? The XLink WG is chartered to December 2002
	(only 3 or 4 months away). What then? An eloquent ... and worrying? ...
	And the XForms WG ... according to the latest public document I could find
	... the charter for the XForms WG seems to expire at the end of September
	2002. Is that another factor in why a sub-standard WD almost sneaked through
	to Candidate Recommendation?
	Maybe all this stuff is in hand at W3C but more public indication of longer
	term coherent strategic planning would provide some reassurance.
	I could go on ... but it is Friday evening here (in the UK). Maybe I should
	go and do something entirely different and it will all look better on Monday
	But somehow I think there is more to this than just a feeling after a busy
	What do you think?
	Andrew Watt
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