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In June of 2004, a W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents held at Adobe offices in San Jose; Opera and Mozilla jointly submitted and presented a position paper with a set of proposed Design Principles for Web Application Technologies and and request a vote on a question regarding whether the W3C should "develop declarative extension to HTML and CSS and imperative extensions to DOM, to address medium level Web Application requirements". From the results of that vote (8 Yes, 14 No) and some subsequent blog postings from Brendan Eich, David Baron, and Ian Hickson, it is clear that Opera and Mozilla came away from the workshop with a realization that their goals with respect to Web applications were not in sync with others in attendance.

  • Brendan Eich's summary
    • The dream of a new web, based on XHTML+SVG+SMIL+XForms, is just that -- a dream. It won't come true no matter how many toy implementations (including Mozilla implementations -- we've supported XHTML for years) there are... The best way to help the Web is to incrementally improve the existing web standards, with compatibility shims provided for IE, so that web content authors can actually deploy new formats interoperably... Mozilla is joining with Opera and others to explore the sort of incremental improvements to HTML proposed by us at the workshop.
    • making up a bunch of new XML-based standards just creates a gulf between where we are, and where you would like us to be, that I see as uncrossable... But there's a chance, if we can co-evolve some HTML improvements, to get to a better space... No one wants a new browser-like runtime-based Internet app, trust me... it simply won't do to pretend that by focusing only on XForms, SVG, or some combination, we will make enough of a market to compete with proprietary formats.
  • David Baron's summary
    • So the W3C may have decided years ago to replace the Web with XHTML, but they've clearly failed to do so, and I don't see any signs of that changing... The theme that seemed to be repeated over and over during the workshop was that Web browsers are no longer relevant and that the Web as it is today is no longer relevant... lead towards the predetermined conclusion that SVG, perhaps with the help of XForms and XHTML, will save the Web by replacing it.
  • Ian Hickson's summary of day one and day two
    • Some interesting things came out. First, the only sustained spontaneous clapping of the entire day came as someone suggested, in response to my brief statement of how backwards compatibility is critical, that it was about time to drop HTML and Windows IE6 from the roadmap... So I can assume from that that most people don't agree with the whole backwards-compatibility thing.
    • There were a lot of rather confused statements during the meeting... it is clear that a lot of people think that "the browser is dead" and that the way forward is transparent "runtimes" that execute remote applications securely. But then these same people demand to know why Mozilla, Opera and Safari don't support XForms and SVG, saying that their lack of support is crippling their standards' adoption... The detailed spec problem is the big issue. There has simply never been a Web specification written in enough detail... Making these specs more detailed is the work that Opera and Mozilla want to do... All the browser vendors present at the meeting were in favour of variants on the Opera/Mozilla ideas, but they were easily out-numbered by the non-browser members... It's not that the W3C is out of touch with the Web, but that the W3C membership is solving problems that every day Web users don't see...
    • We, of course, want the W3C to go down our chosen route. Since there doesn't seem to be much consensus on doing that, though, the question is what should we do now? Should we do our own thing (in public of course) and then submit it to the W3C (or IETF or ECMA) at some future point once we have initial implementations?