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Allow <noscript> in <head>?

From: RaphaŽl Quinet <Raphael.Quinet@eed.ericsson.se>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 16:55:22 +0100
To: www-html-editor@w3.org
Message-Id: <20030303165522.3e6a6cce.Raphael.Quinet@eed.ericsson.se>

There is a problem with all versions of HTML and XHTML: the DTD allows
<script> in <head> and <body>, while <noscript> is only allowed in
<body> but not in <head>.

The current draft of the XHTML 2.0 specification contains an example
in section 15.2.3 (XHTML Scripting Module) showing how one can use
nested <script> elements in <head> in order to support multiple
scripting languages.  However, this does not provide any fallback
solution if no scripting language is supported or enabled.

Allowing <noscript> in <head> would be useful if one has an external
script that dynamically generates the <title>, some <meta> tags or a
<link> to a stylesheet depending on some parameters.  If the script
cannot be loaded, a <noscript> section could at least provide some
reasonable defaults.  So the following example would be useful,
although it is not valid (X)HTML:

  <script type="text/javascript" src="/generate-head.js">
      <title>Default title</title>
      <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/default.css" />
      <link rel="index" href="/index.html" />
      <meta name="Author">Default Author</meta>

This code seems to work in all browsers that I could test, but this is
forbidden by the DTDs (HTML 4 and XHTML 1).  In fact, I discovered
this problem in the DTDs by trying to validate a set of pages
containing some code similar to the one above and getting a number of
errors related to the <noscript> element.

Providing defaults without using <noscript> is not easy.  For the
stylesheet, this requires inserting an unconditional <link> to a
default stylesheet at the beginning of the <head> section and
overrriding all of its settings with a second styleheet that could be
requested via the script.  This is more complex and this increases the
number of requests to the server.  For <title>, <meta> and other
<link> elements, it is necessary to call the script twice: once at the
beginning of <head> before the default values and once at the end,
because some browsers will only display the first <title> found while
others will only display the last one.

I don't know how to solve this problem in the DTD.  In fact, I don't
know if this is even possible, because the valid contents of
<noscript> would be different if the element is used inside <head> or
inside <body>.  I don't think that the DTD syntax allows this,
although I could be wrong.

If this cannot be done in the DTD, then I would suggest adding a
paragraph in the description of the <noscript> tag saying that
browsers should be tolerant and accept <noscript> inside <head>.

Best regards,

P.S.: I am not subscribed to this list.  It would be nice if you
      could CC me on any replies.  I will check the mailing list
      archives from time to time.
Received on Monday, 3 March 2003 10:57:00 GMT

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