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Re: Is "breaking the Web" with HTML 5 a non issue?

From: Dr. Olaf Hoffmann <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 20:24:33 +0200
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <200809232024.33240.Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>

The doctype or the version number of a format inside a document
indicates, how the document was or is intended, not necessarily,
how it is currently interpreted by viewers. I think, there was never 
a viewer able to interprete any HTML version how it was intended.
'HTML5' obviously cannot define, what previous authors intended,
because for many elements the meaning in the 'HTML5' draft
is different from the definition in HTML4 for example.
I think, 'HTML5' does not even have a version indication inside
the document, therefore 'HTML5' seems to describe only, how
documents are currently interpreted, this can be quite different 
again with 'HTML6'.

If archaeologist in 1000 or 10000 years find HTML4 documents and
a HTML4 specification, they still may be able to find out, what was
intended. Typically they will not have current viewers (what will
happen already in 10 or 20 years), therefore it is much more 
difficult (and less relevant), how such document where interpreted
by some viewers a few years after the document was written. 
If there is no version number in HTML documents, they cannot 
identify, if this belongs to 'HTML5 - 6 - 7 - 8 ...' - especially not
for a digital document and it will be much more difficult to find 
out, how such documents were intended - obviously not a good 
choice for documents with a historical meaning, more for 
read-once-and-trash documents - but note, that many
documents having today a historical meaning were intended
for short usage when they were written.

If 'HTML5' forces viewers to interprete HTML4 documents as
'HTML5', this already breaks the web or better the intention of authors. 
But this is not really important as long as authors use an (X)HTML 
version with a version indication, whatever it is - and even for 
'HTML5' they can use "<!-- this is a 'HTML5' document -->"
Received on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 18:30:03 UTC

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