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Re: ISSUE-54: doctype-legacy-compat

From: Philip TAYLOR <chaa006@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 11:35:18 +0000
Message-ID: <4975B6F6.8000608@Royal-Tunbridge-Wells.Org>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

My fundamental objections to the proposal that HTML 5
should use a DOCTYPE similar to

	<!DOCTYPE html>

are its arrogance, and its invariance.  Whereas previous
HTML specifications have demonstrated the wisdom and
humility of their authors by specifying a DOCTYPE that
includes explicit information about the version (and
sub-version) of HTML to which the document claims to
adhere, the current HTML 5 draft specification deliberately
ignores these precedents and specifies a DOCTYPE that
contains no provision whatsoever for indicating to
which specification (or revision of that specification)
the document claims adherence.  And whilst I understand
the desire to avoid long, prolix and potentially error-
prone DOCTYPEs such as

	<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC
		"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
			"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"
				[]>

I believe that the current draft specification has gone
considerably too far in the opposite direction.

It is clear that the current proposals to allow DOCTYPEs
such as

	<!DOCTYPE html "">
	<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "">	
	<!DOCTYPE html SYSTEM "about:sgml-compat">

fail to address this (IMHO, fundamental) deficiency, and
I therefore propose that the HTML 5 DOCTYPE should include,
/at the very least/ the major (5) and minor (initially 0)
elements of its version number.  I do not know which keywords
could legitimately replace "about" in the last example above,
but a DOCTYPE along the lines of :

	<!DOCTYPE html SYSTEM "V:5.0">

		or

	<!DOCTYPE html SYSTEM "version:5.0">

would address all of my concerns on this issue.

By so doing, this would ensure that when the specification
is revised following its formal publication (as it surely
will be), documents authored against the revised specification
will be able to indicate this through their DOCTYPE, thereby
ensuring that a validator is able to identify the correct version
of the specification against which to check conformity.

Philip TAYLOR
Received on Tuesday, 20 January 2009 11:35:55 GMT

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