WHATWG: truly open participation for designing the next foundation of the internet

published on July 20, 2008

First of all, if you don’t know it yet:

What is the WHATWG?

The WHATWG is a growing community of people interested in evolving the Web. It focuses primarily on the development of HTML and APIs needed for Web applications.

Now, how did I end up getting involved in this? If you’re a Drupal user, you might have heard of my Hierarchical Select module. Well, for version 3 of this module, I decided to work on this issue: try to eliminate as much queries to the server as possible, by taking advantage of HTML 5’s client-side database storage.
It’s currently only supported by Safari >=3.1 (or WebKit nightlies as of October 17th) and Firefox 3 (I can’t seem to find confirmation for Firefox though).

To implement this, I looked at the code in WebKit’s example and of course the specification itself. Now, at the time of writing, there’s a small pop-up on the left that marks the current status (“Last call for comments”) and the demos. Only one demo is listed Not ever having heard of the name “glazkov”, this seems almost like a spam URL to me (especially the “player” part). When you visit this site, these 2 lines seem to indicate that there should be something for testing:

This player is meant to be a testing and idea-forming ground for the Client-side Database Storage, a new functionality specified by the HTML5 draft.
You can try this functionality right here in the browser. Type (or paste from your favorite editor) Javascript code in the text box and hit Play to see the results.

However, there’s no such text box nor “play” button or link. So this seems as if it’s either out-of-use, outdated, or just very buggy. In short: the specification site seems and feels unofficial because of this demo.

So I went over to #webkit and asked:

How stable is the HTML 5 client DB storage? I.e. will the API change a lot over the next months or not?

Of course, nobody could give a definite answer, but several tried to give me more useful information. Somebody mentioned the aforementioned demo, which I referred to as:

[…] that page points to some seemingly-very-unofficial page… so I didn’t pay much attention to it.

However, a couple of hours later one guy nicknamed Hixie asked me:

how can i make the http://whatwg.org/html5 spec look more “official”?

I explained what to him what I wrote down above.

WimLeers: Hixie: […] That linked site, because it’s not functioning very well (at least for me, while I understand it should work), is what made me feel as if it were unofficial.
Hixie: WimLeers: yeah the demo is unofficial WimLeers: Hixie: sorry for wasting your time if I did. And just ignore my remarks if you feel it’s meaningless
Hixie: WimLeers: but anyone can add demos to the spec annotations
Hixie: WimLeers: oh no your input is very welcome!
Hixie: WimLeers: i’m just trying to see how we can make the spec itself seem more official
WimLeers: Hixie: well, there you go. I didn’t know that. Perhaps that’s something only whatwg allows and w3c not? Then chances are much more likely that you seem less official.
Catfish_Man: w3c and open participation are not terms commonly found together, except very recently
WimLeers: Hixie: right.
Hixie: WimLeers: ah well. i guess i’ll pick open participation over looking official then


Hixie: WimLeers: :)
WimLeers: Hixie: ok this is incredibly cool. You actually asked me, a complete stranger and seemingly (and practically too) a complete newbie in this project, for feedback. I just decided to go and see how whatwg works, and ended up here: http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/FAQ#How_does_the_WHATWG_work.3F. Guess who’s name’s listed there as the editor? WimLeers: Hixie: if only for this fact, you rock
WimLeers: *even if
Hixie: WimLeers: :)