Re: Some complaints about HTML 4.0

Walter Ian Kaye (
Sat, 12 Jul 1997 22:27:35 -0700

Message-Id: <v0310285bafee16014e52@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 1997 22:27:35 -0700
From: Walter Ian Kaye <>
Subject: Re: Some complaints about HTML 4.0

At 12:11a -0400 07/13/97, Liam Quinn wrote:
 > At 08:44 PM 12/07/97 -0700, David Perrell wrote:
 > >>From Liam Quinn:
 > >> At 06:59 PM 12/07/97 -0700, David Perrell wrote:
 > >> >Arnoud "Galactus" Engelfriet wrote:
 > >> >> 2. There is definite statement on &nbsp;&nbsp; being collapsing or
 > >> >not.
 > >> >
 > >> >A statement there should definitely be, and it should definitely be
 > >> >'not'.
 > >>
 > >> Why?
 > >
 > >The reason white space must collapse is to allow readable structured
 > >markup. Author/designers commonly use multiple &nbsp; to bypass that
 > >limitation. Since consecutive &nbsp; are there by intent, and the
 > >intent is unambiguous, is there any logical reason why they should
 > >collapse?
 > Not really, except perhaps that multiple spaces (non-breaking or
 > otherwise) are not structural elements and thus should be ignored.  HTML
 > 4.0 defines the &nbsp; entity as a method for prohibiting a line break.
 > If we accept &nbsp; as a non-collapsing, non-breaking space, HTML 4.0's
 > definition would have to be augmented to also define &nbsp; as a method
 > for forcing a space.  But the fact that multiple spaces have nothing to do
 > with structure and everything to do with presentation suggests that non-
 > collapsible spaces have no place in HTML.

Note the key word in David's statement: readable.
You could stand in an ivory tower and pass the buck by saying it's just a
"browser issue", but web authors must deal with the real world and make
their pages as legible as possible. This occasionally requires a bit of
&nbsp;-based nudging to provide some breathing space between items. It's
not ideal, but neither are a lot of other things on Planet Earth...

  Walter Ian Kaye <boo_at_best*com>    Programmer - Excel, AppleScript,
          Mountain View, CA                         ProTERM, FoxPro, HTML     Musician - Guitarist, Songwriter