HTML 3.2: TEXTFLOW is confusing

Gerald Oskoboiny (
Thu, 30 May 1996 21:28:41 -0600 (MDT)

From: Gerald Oskoboiny <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: HTML 3.2: TEXTFLOW is confusing
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 21:28:41 -0600 (MDT)

This comment is based on the "Tuesday 30-May-96" version of the Wilbur DTD.

The APPLET declaration in this DTD requires some kind of content between
the opening and closing APPLET tags, or, if there's no content, you have
to explicitly include the dummy TEXTFLOW element, like this:

    <applet code=foo.class width=100 height=100>
      <textflow> </textflow>

(if you remove the <textflow>, it doesn't validate.)

This is documented in the DTD as:

    ... <TEXTFLOW> avoids the problems with SGML mixed content. It can
    always be omitted *except* when the APPLET element hasn't any content.
    White space, comments and PARAM elements don't count as content for
    this purpose. TEXTFLOW was introduced into the DTD to satisfy SGML
    parsers, but is ignored by current Web browsers.

Are there any other SGML hacks that can be used to make <TEXTFLOW>
unnecessary for empty APPLETs?

The reason I'm bringing this up is that one of the users of my HTML
validation service encountered this today when trying to validate a
page with an empty APPLET element against the HTML 3.2 DTD. He couldn't
understand why his APPLET wasn't finished. ("The validator is complaining
about the </APPLET> tag. I don't see anything wrong.")

I think applets with no content may be quite common -- if the applet is
just eye candy, it seems appropriate to leave the applet's content empty
(as using ALT="" is appropriate for eye-candy images.) I'm not looking
forward to trying to explain to people why TEXTFLOW is necessary...

If it's not possible to get around this some other way, is there a better
name than TEXTFLOW for this dummy element? (like "NOAPPLET" or something?)

Gerald Oskoboiny <>      Phone: +1-403-492-7698
Systems Analyst, Information Systems                   Fax: +1-403-492-7172
Office of the Registrar and Student Awards            University of Alberta
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