W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-forms@w3.org > September 2006

Re: some technical thoughts about incremental improvements to forms

From: Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 15:48:53 +0100 (BST)
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Cc: www-forms@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.0609061533350.5481@holly>

On Wed, 6 Sep 2006, Lachlan Hunt wrote:

>> I can appreciate why browser vendors might want to align their 
>> error handling, but it may have the effect of encouraging more 
>> content developers to produce malformed markup.
> What evidence do you have to support such a claim?  The fact is 
> that authors already write a significant amount of broken code and 
> will continue to do so regardless of browser handling.  The only 
> difference will be whether the garbage they write will be 
> compatible with one or many browsers.

Many of us are inherently only willing to do the minimum necessary.
If the content works on the browsers we care about, that's good
enough! The more consistently browsers treat malformed markup, the
less motivation there will be to fix the tools and scripts that
produce it. Naturally, I think that staying within the standards and
testing your markup for conformance to them is worth doing. It gives
you a better chance of correct rendering in today's and tomorrow's
browsers. Relying on the quirks of the top few browsers may feel
safe, but it isn't really. However, human nature being what it is,
authors and tool developers have grown accustomed to the ability of
browsers to recover from markup errors. Standardizing the error
recovery will only help to perpetuate this further.

> As for specifically defining error handling, there is other 
> evidence to show that the positives far outweigh the negatives
> (if any). Just look at the well defined error handling in CSS
> and XML. Of course, errors are still made and bugs are still
> present. But the point is that the situation with CSS and XML
> is much better than that with HTML.

The only error handling that the browser vendors agreed to in the
HTML4 specification was to ignore unknown attributes and tags (as
far as rendering is concerned). The rest is an unfortunate 
consequence of browser vendors trying to keep up with the market 
leader's innovations for error recovery.

But perhaps this is straying too far from the focus of this list.
I am keen to help explore the range of possibilities for making
it easier for Web developers to create and maintain forms, and
see this as an area for experimentation and an open mind. Using
cross browser JavaScript libraries, we can give people a chance
to try out a range of approaches and provide us with feedback
on what they found valuable and how easy it was to use.

  Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org>  W3C lead for multimodal interaction
  http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett +44 1225 866240 (or 867351)
Received on Wednesday, 6 September 2006 14:49:10 UTC

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