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RE: Tidy becomes less forgiving

From: Reitzel, Charlie <CReitzel@arrakisplanet.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 16:54:17 -0400
Message-ID: <B5C79DDBC655D311B6BD0008C7E64D76013C1847@CAM-1CC-MAIL01>
To: "'J. David Bryan'" <jdbryan@acm.org>, HTML Tidy List <html-tidy@w3.org>
Agree with most of your specifics.  But consider those cases where most
browsers support a feature not included in any HTML spec (e.g. cols
attribute of <table>).  Tidy knows all about this one and doesn't emit a
peep.  I.e. Tidy respects the de facto standard implemented by major
browsers.

Nor am I so quick to label as "invalid" large bodies of working code.  Just
as the ANSI standard for C didn't make all K&R C "invalid".  Surely ANSI C
is better than K&R.  But it took a while to migrate all the code over.  Nor
is the mere existence of a spec reason enough to migrate code.  One must
evaluate one or more implementations of a given feature before committing
resources to such a task.

If everybody took the rigid view, the web simply wouldn't exist.  Then
again, if we always carry forward the slop, the web would crumble under its
own weight.  In most cases, a thoughtful compromise is actually better than
either extreme - even though it usually makes no one happy.

take it easy,
Charlie


-----Original Message-----
From: J. David Bryan [mailto:jdbryan@acm.org]
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2001 2:48 PM
To: HTML Tidy List
Subject: RE: Tidy becomes less forgiving


On 17 Sep 2001, at 13:00, Reitzel, Charlie wrote:

> That said, I believe de facto standards carry every bit 
> as much weight as unimplemented "recommendations".  [...]
> 
> I just think it is really important to keep development 
> grounded in what HTML coders use today.

I disagree rather strongly with this view.

What HTML "coders" use today is invalid markup, necessitating that user
agents attempt to guess the intent of the authors.  Dave Raggett's original
work on Tidy was a laudable effort to transform such invalid markup into
compliant HTML, thereby removing that guesswork and broadening compatibility
across user agents.

To quote from Dave's original Tidy Web page:

  "Tidy corrects the markup in a way that matches 
   __where possible__ [emphasis mine] the observed 
   rendering in popular browsers from Netscape and Microsoft."

The "where possible" here is crucial.  If Tidy can divine the author's
intent and reformulate it in compliant HTML, great.  If it can't, then
compliant HTML that comes closest to that intent should be generated.  But
either way, compliant HTML must be generated.

Changing Tidy to generate broken HTML would be a serious mistake, in my
opinion.

                                      -- Dave
Received on Monday, 17 September 2001 16:53:12 GMT

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