W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > May 2007

Re: Support Existing Content

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 09:50:53 +0100
Message-ID: <463850ED.4050600@cam.ac.uk>
To: Gareth Hay <gazhay@gmail.com>
Cc: W3C List <public-html@w3.org>, "Philip Taylor (Webmaster)" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>

Gareth Hay wrote:

> If the page does not conform, is not well formed, an error is displayed.
> During the creation process of the page, the author will see this error 
> - long before it is released into the wild - and if they so desire (as 
> in they can't be bothered to fix it) they can change what they claim to 
> write to "tag-soup" and the browser is free to do it's best - albeit 
> different browsers will do different things, but on the author's head be 
> it.

This ignores the fact that many sites are dynamically generated from a 
combination of author supplied content and external content such as user 
supplied content and adverts. This means that there is no opportunity to 
see the "final" page to check for syntax errors. Instead one has to hope 
that one's publishing system is sufficiently bug free to reject 
ill-formed content automatically.

As a data point on the success of this approach, out of the 3 
application xhtml+xml sites I visit regularly, I have personally 
observed catastrophic XML parse errors on 2/3 and I know the third did 
have an incident in which well-formedness was not maintained. This is 
despite all three authors being highly competent and all sites taking 
extensive precautions such as validating user comments. One has now 
moved back to HTML 4 (the others make use of SVG and MathML so their 
hands are somewhat tied).

If, instead of being blogs, these sites had been, say Ebay, how much 
business would have been lost? Why would the business ever introduce the 
additional risk of a technology that insists on enforcing 
well-formedness at the client end -- fundamentally the wrong place to 
impose such a constraint since it inconveniences the people least able 
to deal with the problem. If HTML5 were to take the path of ensuring 
well formedness, I would expect HTML4, presumably with all the same 
interoperability problems we have today, to remain the defacto current 
HTML for much of the web.

"Instructions to follow very carefully.
Go to Tesco's.  Go to the coffee aisle.  Look at the instant coffee. 
Notice that Kenco now comes in refil packs.  Admire the tray on the 
shelf.  It's exquiste corrugated boxiness. The way how it didn't get 
crushed on its long journey from the factory. Now pick up a refil bag. 
Admire the antioxidant claim.  Gaze in awe at the environmental claims 
written on the back of the refil bag.  Start stroking it gently, its my 
packaging precious, all mine....  Be thankful that Amy has only given 
you the highlights of the reasons why that bag is so brilliant."
-- ajs
Received on Wednesday, 2 May 2007 08:52:26 UTC

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