Teacup, Meet Storm, pt. IV: Adobe Blocking HTML5?

There’s a bit of ruckus going on at the moment in the world of HTML5. A number of people are claiming that Adobe has blocked the latest publication of the HTML5 standard. However, after diving into the actual mailing list threads, it becomes obvious quite quickly that it’s nothing but a misunderstanding. Update: Masinter replies: “No part of HTML5 is, or was ever, ‘blocked’ in the W3C HTML Working Group – not HTML5, not Canvas 2D Graphics, not Microdata, not Video – not by me, not by Adobe.”

So, what’s going on here? Ian ‘Hixie’ Hickson (Google) and Anne van Kesteren (Opera) were both claiming that Adobe was blocking the publication of the latest HTML5 specifications by posting a formal complaint to a members-only W3C mailing list. Others picked up on this, but it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup, since a perusal through the relevant mailing list thread reveals that it’s all based on a misunderstanding.

After Hixie’s and Van Kesteren’s claims made it onto the internet, Shelley Powers posted a message to the public mailing list of the HTML-WG, asking what on earth was going on. “At least two members of this team, Ian Hickson and Anne van Kesteren, representing Google and Opera, respectively, have been writing this morning that Adobe is officially blocking publication of HTML5,” Powers wrote, “This type of communication could cause FUD among the community of users, and should be addressed as soon as possible.”

“There was something in the minutes yesterday about a formal objection from Larry Masinter [from Adobe], but the emails in this regard went to a protected email list,” Powers continues, “However, Larry has discussed in the www-archive list, a publicly accessible list, his objections to the publication of Microdata, the RDFa document, and the Canvas 2D API, but not the HTML5 document, itself.”

The concerns in question have to do with charter and scope, and are not exclusive to Adobe. The problem seems to be that all these documents – Microdata, RDFa, Canvas 2D API, HTML5 document – are all lumped together, and some are confused about whether or not an objection to a single one can block all of them. The answer is clear: no, it cannot. In other words, Masinter’s objection does not block HTML5.

So, to get back to Hixie’s original complaint, two aspects of it appear to be untrue. First, Adobe’s complaint is not a secret at all – it’s a procedural thing that was posted to a public mailing list February 5. Second, this complaint is not blocking HTML5.

I’m not a particular fan of Flash, or Adobe in general, but it seems like the torches and pitchforks were taken out of the sheds a little too soon on this one. When I first encountered Hixie’s blog post, I was quite angry, but after spending some time reading the mailing list posts in question, from the people actually handling the matter first-hand, it became quite clear it’s all just a storm in a teacup. You can obviously read the mailing list thread yourself so you can make up your own mind.

Did I just spend a considerable amount of words (and time) defending Adobe? I have this sudden urge to brush my teeth…


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