WHATWG - What for?
Another acronym I had not looked at previously - WHATWG. A specification for web applications? Sounds unlikely. Between changing practices and adequate existing function, what value is there in freezing current thought into a specification? What is the real added value here?
Reading through the WHATWG draft, I kept wondering if (or hoping?) this were in fact some sort of elaborate joke. Posted on April 1? Nope.
To put this into context - after finally having reason to get thoroughly familiar with the HTML DOM (what a mess), I realize that ignoring the W3C standards process was a mistake. Put differently, if you were even remotely involved with picking client-side names like "getElementById", or choosing to leave out "innerHTML" - that I would take as reason to doubt your judgement. You could say that the reverence with which I hold the past web standards process is somewhat limited. Thought briefly about joining the W3C, and trying to make a difference - then ran across the membership requirements. Seems your thoughts are only of value if sponsored by an organization willing to pay significant fees - an interesting (if dubious) selector.
Trying to get a handle on what motivates WHATWG, came across this gem:
Position Paper for the W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents Scripting is here to stay
But should be avoided where more convenient declarative markup can be used.
Which is pretty much what I expected - and I disagree. Having more than one way to do the same thing is not necessarily good. Can you define declarative markup for future dynamic behavior, or are you going to cast in stone a fraction of present behavior, which may be less used in the future? More crud in the browser code....
There is an enormous amount of churn in the surface presentation and underlying toolkits used to express web applications. This is good and healthy when current/best thought is changing rapidly. To pick some subset of this to cast into a specification, would seem to require more wisdom than I could muster. Given the past record of the folks involved in web standards ... I do not expect them to do any better. This may all be very unfair to the folk involved in WHATWG. I cannot tell.
W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents (Day 2) Jun 2, 2004 "Steve Zilles (Independent): To repeat my challenge, can we find the key 5-7 things to focus on and not try to solve all the world's problems?"
An excellent question from Zilles. My impression of later work is an attempt "to solve all the world's problems" (probably badly).
So, am I just a PITA, that doesn't "get it"? Perhaps not. HTML pretty much works. Reading through the working group notes, felt as though I were spying on Douglas Adam's hairdressers. (Maybe in context, it would all make sense? Or not.)
Part of my wariness comes from having worked with folk who like to "specify" everything - even when it doesn't work. The sort of folk who prefer complex solutions over simplicity. Form over function. Who prefer a blizzard of words over clarity. They are always with us, the trick is to not be caught following.