Re: HTML 4 text.html#h-7.3.3

Brian Kelly (
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 17:15:46 +0100 (BST)

Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 17:15:46 +0100 (BST)
From: Brian Kelly <>
To: Jordan Reiter <>
Subject: Re: HTML 4 text.html#h-7.3.3
In-Reply-To: <l03110701b003d0923ef7@[]>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.3.93.970729165738.14012C-100000@lamin>

On Tue, 29 Jul 1997, Jordan Reiter wrote:

> At 3:01 AM -0500 07-29-1997, Lars Eighner wrote:
> >1.  Is the sentence "The organization of information into
> >paragraphs is not affected by how the paragraphs are presented:
> >paragraphs that are double-justified contain the same thoughts as
> >those that are left-justified," meant to be universal in its
> >application, or does it apply to some more restricted domain
> >such "documents in HTML."   If it is meant to be less than
> >universal, why isn't it qualified in some way?
> >
> >2.  If it is meant to be universal, is its basis in doctrine
> >or in evidence?  
> >
> >3.  Is there any conceivable evidence that could disprove this
> >statement?  
> You want to join the www-html-philosophymajors mailing list. :-)

I think this is an important(ish) question.  

The HTML 4 draft attempts to provide both a rigourous definition and 
guidelines in the design of HTML / SGML.  It is possible to get too
concerned with the philosphy of the guidelines.  On the other hand
there is always Murphy's law - if somebody can misinterpret a
specification they somebody will.  There was a previous posting related to
this subject on some of the examples  e.g. one which included
text saying "click here".  I would agree with the person who felt that the
examples should reflect good practices (but should all HTML fragments
which include a <TITLE> also include <HTML>, <HEAD> and <BODY> - which
would make the examples longer).

The HTML 4 draft attempts to:

  o Define the HTML language for use by software developers
  o Define the language for use by keen information providers
  o Explain the background and reasons for design decisions 

In doing this the draft is on the long side for easy reading (compare with
the XML draft), although lightweight compared with ISO standards.

Would it be worth splitting the draft into a number of separate,
independently maintained documents, such as:

 o HTML 4 spec - aimed at software vendors.  Provides a rigourous
   specification, and examples to highlight exceptions.  Avoids 
   motivation and design principles.
 o HTML 4 for information providers.  Aimed at providing the understanding of 
   HTML 4 needed by HTML authors.  Provides motivation on why HTML 4
   is needed, and the underyling design principles.

What do people think?



Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus
UKOLN, University of Bath, BATH, England, BA2 7AY
Email:     URL:
Phone:  01225 323943            FAX:   01225 826838