Re: HTML 4.0 draft available

Dave Raggett (
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 04:25:26 -0400 ()

Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 04:25:26 -0400 ()
From: Dave Raggett <>
To: Jordan Reiter <>
Subject: Re: HTML 4.0 draft available
In-Reply-To: <l03010d00afe7d2262688@[]>
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 8 Jul 1997, Jordan Reiter wrote:

> I am somwhat bewildered by the sudden surge of "deprecated"
> attributes and tags.  I recognize that the existence of style
> sheets does make it possible to indicate the appearance of the web
> page, but I question the assumption that everyone has access to a
> browser that supports them; especially a browser that supports
> them correctly.  Assuming that most users will not be using the
> latest versions of software (heck, I still use Netscape 3.0), then
> it is foolish to assume that style sheets can cover your problems. 
> Only the newer browsers from Netscape and Explorer support style
> sheets, and they do so in an unconsistent and incomplete form. 

The draft spec says:

 This section of the specification discusses some HTML elements
 and attributes that may be used for visual formatting. Generally
 speaking you are recommended to use style sheets instead. An
 exception is when dealing with user agents that either don't
 support style sheets or which don't support the particular style
 sheet features needed.

Perhaps this needs to be reinforced. The idea is that as more and
more people gain access to browsers that support style sheets
authors should be encouraged to exploit these, rather than abusing
HTML structural features for presentational effects, which actually
reduce accessibility for many people.

 A deprecated element or attribute is one that has been outdated
 by newer HTML constructs. Deprecated elements are defined in the
 reference manual in appropriate locations, but are clearly marked
 as deprecated. Deprecated elements may become obsolete in future
 versions of HTML. 

Surely its reasonable to say that for example the FONT element
will be phased out once style sheets are ubiquitous?  It won't be
obsoleted in the next few months, but the Web is evolving rapidly
so perhaps next year this will be appropriate.

Another motivation for deprecating presentational elements and
attributes is to provide a solid core of HTML features for those
authoring communities which are asking for guidelines for safe
non-proprietary features they can rely on. 

> I have attempted using the BIG and SMALL tags in my documents to
> avoid the use of FONT SIZE= and have found it to be limiting and
> unpredictable.  For pages where informational content is key, I
> could certainly use simple HTML formatting in conjunction with
> style sheets, but for pages that depend on visual appearance,
> especially for businesses, I will probably continue using these
> tags.

The draft doesn't deprecate really common markup for font styles
including B, I, TT, BIG and SMALL. Less common styles which have
been deprecated include STRIKE, S and U. This choice is the result
of discussions in the W3C HTML working group.

You are welcome to go on using FONT for delivering content to
older browsers. 


-- Dave Raggett <>
phone: +44 122 578 2521 (office) +44 385 320 444 (gsm mobile)
World Wide Web Consortium (on assignment from HP Labs)