Link Types [was: HTML 4.0 draft available]

Norman Gray (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 14:24:53 +0100

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 14:24:53 +0100
From: Norman Gray <>
Subject: Link Types [was: HTML 4.0 draft available]
Message-Id: <>


At 05:31 22/07/97 -0500, Jordan Reiter wrote:
>At 2:14 AM -0500 07-22-1997, Arnaud Le Hors wrote:
>>I don't see why you thinnk there is a limit of possible values. The spec
>>lists some values as an _example_ but it definitely allows for more. So
>>does the DTD.
>I took the "may" as "these are the link types that Authors are permitted to
>use" not as "if you wish, you can use these link types".  I suppose this
>was a case of misinterpretation. :-)  The use of the term "may" can be
>fairly ambiguous and as such it might make sense to modify the statement.

I feel quite strongly that the HTML 4.0 documentation needs to make some
more positive statement about link types, rather than the vagueness which
has caused confusion here and will cause apathy and a consequent lack of
implementation in the future. I've expatiated on this here before [1], but
that message rather sank without trace, as its most specific point turned
out to be insubstantial (silly me).

At the risk of being boring, what I said then was:

>The draft says `[a]uthors _may_ use the following recognised link
>types' (my emphasis).  I think we could get away with a much more
>definite statement, along the lines of saying that if the link element
>is supported at all by a browser, then all the types in a given list
>must be implemented in some way, and that all alternatives with the
>same semantics (such as `toc' instead of `contents') are deprecated.
>This wouldn't close the door to future extensions, but it would
>encourage authors to take the trouble to include LINK elements in
>documents they generate, and encourage manufacturers to include
>support for them, in the expectation that there will be enough
>structure encoded in the head element to make useful nagivation aids

My impression is that the HTML 4 discussion here has covered detailed
technical wrinkles in the draft DTD, and more general discussion of `new
features', but that it has been disappointingly quiet about the
possibilities of encouraging improvements in the WWW's extremely limited
hypertext model, and encouraging browser manufacturers to support those
features (ie, the link and meta elements) which already exist.  

A discussion about link types would be the first step towards such an
improvement, and as such is of much greater importance than arguments about
new elements, line spacing, or the precise meaning of the nbsp entity.

All the best,


Norman Gray                              
Department of Computer Studies, room M627A               0141 331 3288
Glasgow Caledonian University, G4 0BA, UK