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Re: HTML version issue summary?

From: Matthew Ratzloff <matt@builtfromsource.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 14:43:27 -0700
Message-ID: <023c01c78aa7$6c3ff1d0$0301a8c0@notebook>
To: <public-html@w3.org>

On 4/28/07, Preston L. Bannister wrote:
> On 4/28/07, Matthew Ratzloff <matt@builtfromsource.com> wrote:
>> If you absolutely want to link your product to the then-current browser
>> version, why not pre-emptively include:
>>
>>     <meta http-equiv="Content-Rendering" content="IE 8.0" />
>>
>> ...or serve the equivalent HTTP header?
>
> We don't need this.  When IE comes out with support for HTML 5, the mass 
> of
> new web pages written to HTML 5 will mainly be tested in that version of
> IE.  In effect pages declaring:
>
> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC"-//W3C//DTD HTML 5.0//EN">
>
> (or whatever equivalent we decide on) will come to mean HTML 5 as
> implemented in that future version of IE.  If we do our job as the HTML WG
> well, that version of IE (and other browser implementations) will only
> differ from the standard only in areas not well covered by validation
> tests.  If we are conservative in adding new function, and thorough in
> requiring validation tests for any new function, then the chance of 
> uncaught
> differences becomes small (and even smaller in future iterations).

It's likely that "<!DOCTYPE html>" will be the HTML 5.0 switch--no need for 
the legacy DTD declaration.

The working group obviously has no control over individual browser 
implementations.  There are going to be discrepancies in implementation 
versus specification no matter what.  Everyone, especially Microsoft, 
acknowledges this fact.  I think it's fair to say that most believe the 
solution is some kind of switch above and beyond the DOCTYPE.

The primary disagreement is about how the switch should work.  Should 
content authors be required to opt INTO standards mode or OUT of it?  I 
believe that requiring HTML 5 authors to use standards mode unless they 
explicitly opt out for certain browsers is the best way to push the web 
toward better standards compliance.  Otherwise, everyone on the planet is 
going to have to have Internet Explorer-specific code in their pages until 
(at best) HTML 6.  And if Microsoft determines that IE-specific opt-ins are 
no longer necessary come HTML 6, then that means there will need to be a new 
HTML 6 opt-in (different from "<!DOCTYPE html>").  Until that point, to 
remain fully standards-compliant in Internet Explorer, authors must 
periodically update every HTML page with the new IE browser version, 
encouraging absolutely no one to be standards-compliant.

Currently, most people already have IE-specific code in their pages. 
However, I think we can all agree that this is not ideal, and that the 
ultimate goal should be to eliminate that necessity.  This would instead 
perpetuate it.

I believe the alternative "bug mode" method (a browser-specific opt-out) 
provides sufficient protection for broken content by allowing authors to use 
a simple switch that can be applied per page (with a <meta> tag) or en masse 
(with an HTTP header).  Again, this is still not ideal--"ideal" is no 
browser-specific switches at all.

> BTW, using the label "bugs mode" offers the wrong connotations.  Better to
> think of this more as "make existing pages work" mode.

In a message four days ago I suggested nine possible names [1].  Regardless, 
"bug mode" implies that the page relies on at least one rendering bug from a 
specific browser version (i.e., an implementation that does not correctly 
adhere to the specification).  Thus, the name is appropriate.

-Matt

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/1466.html 
Received on Sunday, 29 April 2007 21:43:31 UTC

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