Evolution vs Revolution in Web Standards

CNet’s Paul Festa filed a story today, Fight over ‘forms’ clouds future of Net applications, with a subhead of “As Net heavyweights vie to define the next generation of Web applications, the Web’s main standards body is facing a revolt within its own ranks over electronic forms, a cornerstone of interactive documents.”

The article sheds some light on the WHAT-WG, as well as some of the players in this general saga. The most interesting section to me:

WHAT-WG members say the forms dispute illustrates a larger conflict over whether the W3C should proceed in a “revolutionary” mode, tackling problems from square one and coming up with technically elegant solutions–even if that results in the loss of backward-compatibility with older browsers–or an “evolutionary” mode, maintaining older technologies like HTML 4 and extending the usefulness of current browsing software.

I also enjoyed Steven Pemberton’s comments:

“The WHAT approach works OK for small examples,” Pemberton said. “But actors like the Department of Defense say ‘no scripting.’”

And:

“I understand where WHAT is coming from, but they are browser makers, not forms experts,” Pemberton said. “It is important to build something that is future-proof and not a Band-Aid solution. Forms (technology) is the basis of the e-commerce revolution and so it is important to do it right.”

[All emphasis mine.]