For Jo

This was originally drafted as response to [Jo Rabin's blog post] discussing a meetup the W3C TAG hosted last month. For some reason, I was having difficulty adding comments there.

Hi Jo,

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, and for the engaging chat at the meetup. Your post mirrors some of my own thinking about what the TAG can be good for.

I can’t speak for everyone on the TAG, but like me, most of the new folks who have joined have backgrounds as web developers. For the last several months, we’ve been clearing away old business from the agenda, explicitly to make way for new areas of work which mirror some of your ideas. At the meeting which the meetup was attached to, the TAG decided at the urging of the new members to become a functional API review board. The goal of that project is to encourage good layering practice across the platform and to help WGs specify better, more coherent, more idiomatic APIs. That’s a long-game thing to do, and you can see how far we’ve got to go in terms of making even the simplest idioms universal.

Repairing these sorts of issues is what the TAG, organizationally, is suited to do. Admittedly, it has not traditionally shown much urgency or facility with them. We’re changing that, but it takes some time. Hopefully you’ll see much more to cheer in the near future.

As for the overall constituency and product, I feel strongly that one of the things we’ve accomplished in our efforts to reform the TAG is that we’re re-focusing the work to emphasize the ACTUAL web. Stuff that’s addressable with URLs and has a meaningful integration point with HTML. Too much time has been wasted worrying about problems we don’t have, or for good reasons, are unlikely to have. Again, I don’t speak for the TAG, but I promise to continue to fight for the pressing problems of webdevs.

The TAG can use this year to set an agenda, show positive progress, and deliver real changes in specs. Already we’re making progress with Promises, constructability, layering (how do the bits relate?), and extensibility. We also have a task to explain what’s important and why. That’s what has lead to efforts like the Extensible Web Manifesto. You’ll note other TAG members as signatories.

Along those lines, the TAG has also agreed to begin work on documents that will help spec authors understand how to approach the design process with the constraints of idiomaticness and layering in mind. That will take time, but it’s being informed by our direct, hands-on work with spec authors and WGs today.

So the lines are drawn: the TAG is refocusing, taking up the architectural issues that cause real people real harm in the web we actually have, and those who think we ought to be minding some other store aren’t very much going to like it. I’m OK with that, and I hope to have your support in making it happen.