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Possible error in Section 18.2.2: Script Content Types

From: Stephanos Piperoglou <stephanos@webreference.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 23:28:20 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9909232257250.1321-100000@midnight.pipis.com>
While writing the next tutorial for HTML with Style [see sig], I came
upon Section 18.2.2 of the HTML 4.0 specification, where there exists
a certain paragraph I have a gripe with:

  Authors should specify the default scripting language for all
  scripts in a document by including the following META declaration in
  the HEAD:
  <META http-equiv="Content-Script-Type" content="type">
  where "type" is an content type naming the scripting
  language. Examples of values include "text/tcl", "text/javascript",
  "text/vbscript".

I checked out the IANA registered MIME types (the document [2] was
linked from www.iana.org; I assume it's the normative and latest
version) and they include none of the above; nor do they include media
types for these languages under any top-level media
type. Additionally, I don't think the "text" top-level media type is
appropriate; quoting from RFC2046 [3], section 3:

  Plain text is intended to be displayed "as-is". No special software is
  required to get the full meaning of the text, aside from support for
  the indicated character set. Other subtypes are to be used for
  enriched text in forms where application software may enhance the
  appearance of the text, but such software must not be required in
  order to get the general idea of the content.

Although the semantics are arguable, I think that scripting languages
should fall under the "application" top-level media type. JavaScript
is human-readable in the sense that it's not a binary format, but hey,
so is LaTeX really, or PostScript if you're crazy enough :-)

<OFFTOPIC>Don't programming languages deserve their own top-level
media type?</OFFTOPIC>

And, if you consider current practice, the default mime.types file
that came with my copy of Navigator lists Javascript as
application/x-javascript. (Navigator itself does not support most HTML
content type specifications for scripts; I couldn't find any info on
DevEdge Online). I couldn't get a hold of the IE information because
most of msdn.microsoft.com is illegible on my NS4.6/Linux, but I
vaguely recall IE recognizing application/x-javascript as well. My
Apache distro also came with application/x-javascript as the type for
JavaScript scripts.

Therefore I would propose, in absence of any corrections to the
reasoning above, that the above section and all other references to
script content types be changed to reflect that (a) none of the above
media types have been assigned by the IANA, and hence the x- prefix
should be used when describing scripts until something changes on this
front, (b) scripts belong under the application top-level media type
and (c) the types application/x-javascript, application/x-vbscript and
application/x-tcl reflect current practice in this area.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/scripts.html#h-18.2.2
[2] http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/iana/assignments/media-types/
[3] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2046.txt

-- 
Stephanos Piperoglou - HTML with Style       http://www.webreference.com/html/
      THIS WEEK: Style Watch: Take a Stand and Understand the Standard.
Prompted by the Web Standards Project's petition to Microsoft, we take a
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Received on Thursday, 23 September 1999 16:26:00 GMT

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