Global attributes in HTML 3

David Megginson (
Fri, 12 Jan 1996 06:23:33 -0500

Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 06:23:33 -0500
Message-Id: <>
From: David Megginson <>
Subject: Global attributes in HTML 3

(First, I'd like to introduce myself to this list briefly -- I am the
 director of the Writing Centre at the University of Ottawa and a
 specialist in medieval literature.  I have been working intensely with
 SGML since 1991, and have recently written the free package
 for converting SGML documents to other formats or to other DTDs.)

I would like to congratulate Dave Raggett and his associates on having
done a good job producing the HTML 3.0 DTD.  I have had trouble
finding a version dated more recently than 24-Mar-95, so my comments
might not be entirely appropriate now (I am also uncertain that the
date in the header is correct).

I think that the global %attr; parameter entity is an excellent idea
-- in particular, the ability to assign a class, id, and lang to
_every_ element greatly improves the value and flexibility of HTML.  I
wonder, however, why %attr; (which could usefully be renamed to
%global.attr;) does not appear in the ATTLIST's of certain elements,
including <tab>, <spot>, <form>, <overlay>, <math>, <box>, <above>,
<below>, <array>, <row>, <item>, <link>, <range>, <isindex>, <base>,
<meta>, <style>, and <html> itself.  Some of these do have some of the
global attributes (ie. id) included manually, but why not just include
%attr; by default?  While a class attribute for an <isindex> tag, for
example, might not help with stylesheets and visual presentation, it
could be useful for searching and indexing.


David Megginson                Department of English, University of Ottawa,       Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA  K1N 6N5      Phone: (613) 562-5800 ext.1203
WWW:  FAX: (613) 562-5990