Re: sgml-lex: White space in tags?

Harold A. Driscoll (
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 21:40:06 +0100

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 21:40:06 +0100
To: John Gilmore <>
From: "Harold A. Driscoll" <>
Subject: Re: sgml-lex: White space in tags?

At 14:06 19/9/96 -0700, John Gilmore wrote:
>It's extremely unfortunate that HTML is based on a proprietary spec
>that we can't distribute online.  I hope W3C is trying to remedy this
>situation.  How much money would it take to pry loose the SGML spec
>from ISO for public distribution without restriction?  I can attempt
>to provide or raise this money, if they have a price.  If they refuse
>to permit public use at any price, I think the HTML community should
>duplicate the work (to the extent that we need it) and separate from
>the SGML community.

This is definitely a problem, both that the documents are not available on
the net and that their cost and/or availability is impractical for many
people. Good luck.

>Here's the specific issue:
>    When doing HTML anchors (links), the closing ">" on the <A HREF...> 
>    element needs to be in contact with the rest of it:
>    <A HREF="/pub/join/index.html">Join EFF today</A>!
>    not:
>    <A HREF="/pub/join/index.html"
>    >Join EFF today</A>!

Playing around with the WebTechs HTML validation (which has a good track
record) at I find that both examples
validate, but the following does not:

    < A HREF="/pub/join/index.html">Join EFF today</A>!

when there is whitespace between the open "<" and the element name.

>    Netscape is smart enough to parse the 2nd example, but many other 
>    browsers aren't.

I'm surprised, as I've seen this usage on a number of pages, it seems most
often when computer-generated.

>I think this is incorrect; I hope the spec allows arbitrary white-space
>inside the < ... > delimiters.  But, it's sad but true, I can't find
>a spec for this.

You might also want to check out James Clark's SP package at and the related documentation and links.

Good luck.  /Harold
Harold A. Driscoll             
#include <std/disclaimer>