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Re: IBM Position Statement on XForms and Web Forms 2.0

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2006 13:48:55 +1000
Message-ID: <44F7ADA7.1090201@lachy.id.au>
To: John Boyer <boyerj@ca.ibm.com>
CC: public-appformats@w3.org, www-forms@w3.org

John Boyer wrote:
> I believe you are reading some specs far too rigidly.  Please see the 
> first line of Appendix C of XHTML 1, which says it is informative (as 
> opposed to normative).

I'm aware of that.  But XHTML 1.0, Section 5.1 (which is normative) 
referrs to the Appendix C guidelines as a requirement for labelling the 
documents as text/html.

The XHTML Media Types note (yes, I know it's only informative) states in 
section 3.1 [1]:

   "In particular, 'text/html' is NOT suitable for XHTML Family document
    types that adds elements and attributes from foreign namespaces, such
    as XHTML+MathML"

In section 3.5 (the summary table) the example of XHTML+MathML states 
that it *should not* be served as text/html.  I know that's not quite 
the same as *must not*, but XHTML 1.0, section 5.1 explicitly states 
that text/html may only be used for documents that are "*compatible with 
most HTML browsers*".  MathML or, in this case, XForms is not really 
compatible with HTML UAs, because they require XML processing.

> Second, XHTML is an XML application, which supports namespaces, so why 
> would the guidelines cease to apply because a particular feature of XML is 
> used in the XHTML?

It's because the Appendix C guidelines don't apply to XForms, only to 
XHTML that is compatible with HTML browsers.

> Third,  I do appreciate insanity being equated with going against 
> something I might have said :-), except that in this case I was talking 
> about enticing content toward XML well-formedness even when it is served 
> with the type text/html.

But there is significant evidence to show that that simply doesn't work 
in the real world.  XHTML simply cannot be learned or taught correctly 
under text/html condition.  Authors and teachers that try, inevitably 
fail and well-formedness constraints (among others) are frequently 
disregarded.  I've written about this issue before [2].

> Well-formedness constraints don't apply to text/html content right now,
> but it's also not illegal content, and there's nothing unfortunate about 
> delivering XML compliant HTML as text/html.  A host of web browsers 
> (including IE!) have no problems with this content.

The direct irreparable damage it has caused was done a long time ago. 
However, the indirect problems it causes include the following:
* Well-formedness errors aren't fatal and aren't fixed.
* Authors use HTML techniques for scripts and stylesheets
* Authors often fail to comply with the Appendix C guidelines

More of these issues are discussed in [2].

> So, far from my position being an idealistic one, I am actually 
> questioning why the WF2 beliefs against XML are so rigidly held in the 
> absence of any strong technical obstacles.

I'm not against XML and, theoretically, it would be nice to leave HTML 
behind.  However, we must accept the reality that HTML is here to stay. 
There's no reason why it too can't progress along side XHTML (as it does 
in WF2 and WA1 (HTML 5), with the ability to serialise as either HTML or 
XHTML).  We must also give up the myth that XML processing is compatible 
with text/html.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-media-types/#text-html
[2] http://lachy.id.au/log/2005/12/xhtml-beginners

Lachlan Hunt
Received on Friday, 1 September 2006 03:49:42 UTC

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