W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > April 2007

Re: Semicolon after entities

From: Nicholas Shanks <contact@nickshanks.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2007 11:49:01 +0100
Message-Id: <FBABED17-C3FA-4AB8-8942-4BD169FE298A@nickshanks.com>
To: W3C HTML Mailing List <www-html@w3.org>
We wouldn't be having any of these kinds of arguments if the market  
leading browser enforced document conformance (not just well- 
formedness) upon web developers.

"Sorry, the website at web.example.com could not be displayed because  
the developers are incompetent.

Error on line 30:  invalid type value ‘combobox’ for input element."

If website owners saw that message every time they opened their site  
in the browser that 80% of their customers are using, they'd sure as  
hell fix it sharpish.

Microsoft need only do this for HTML 5 documents and leave HTML 4 and  
earlier in not-very-strict or quirks mode as appropriate. I do not  
believe it will hinder their market share at all, since developers  
who cannot cope with obeying rules will still have tag soup mode to  
retreat to. So whilst it may impair HTML 5 take-up in the short term,  
it will improve both the health and interoperability of the web and  
also the job of those creating HTML 6 in a few years' time. HTML 5 in  
this scenario would still prevail through brute force, especially as  
more new features are added that sites simply must have to stay  
'cool', and will not go the way of XHTML 2.

I believe versioning of documents is superior to non-versioned  
document formats, as does the overwhelming majority of the computer  
industry. Mark-up languages should be no different. Whilst forwards  
compatibility (and thus lack of requirement for versioning) is a  
laudable goal, I offer the history of HTML as proof that it cannot  
always be achieved, and moreover, that it cannot be retro-actively be  
applied to an extant format.

If anyone can present a case for not explicitly versioning documents  
when different versions of the format for those documents are  
INCOMPATIBLE (as is the case with HTML), please present it. I have  
yet to see any such argument that has merit.

On 26 Apr 2007, at 09:41, Philip & Le Khanh wrote:

> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>> The HTML5 spec is attempting to define how to handle all HTML now  
>> and inthe future.  With the unfortunate exception of IE, browsers  
>> will not beadding additional DOCTYPE sniffing to distinguish  
>> between HTML5 andother revisions.
> That is, I think at the very centre of this debate/argument/w-h-y,  
> although
> this is the first explicit mention that I have seen.  Web Apps 1 (I  
> avoid
> calling it HTML5, since there is by no means universal agreement that
> Web Apps 1 should become HTML5) appears to be defining (amongst other
> things) a processing model that will allow all HTML pages to be
> processed in the same way (including an attempt to define the  
> behaviour
> if a document is ill-formed).  What I believe is really needed is
> about as diametrically opposed to this as can be imagined : a  
> processing
> model which varies with the DOCTYPE.  I have little objection to it
> defining a processing model which treats HTML 3.2 and earlier as tag
> soup.  HTML 4.0 was a mistake, HTML 4.01 corrected the error and -- if
> it had been properly used in the wild -- could have been parsed and
> processed more rigorously : as it is, there is such a corpus of
> ill-formed legacy documents that one has little choice but to once
> again allow the tag-soup model.
> But HTML5 should be different.  This is surely the time at which to
> say "enough is enough" : either a document is well-formed (in which
> case its processing is well-defined) or it is not, in which case
> the browser can process it as it will.  There is <shout>no need</>
> for all browsers to handle something that /alleges/ to be HTML5
> consistently if the document is defective (poorly formed).  Indeed,
> if browsers /do/ vary wildly in their treatment of ill-formed
> HTML5 documents, there will be far greater pressure on /hoi polloi/
> to write good, well-formed, HTML5 if they wish their offerings to
> be seen consistently.  Thus, IMHO, HTML5 can be processed quite
> differently to earlier, legacy, DTDs and it should be quite correct
> for a conforming browser to switch processing models (from "lax"
> to "strict") when an HTML5 DTD is detected.
> To summarise, I think the following statement, taken from Web Apps 1,
> is fundamentally flawed and requires radical thinking if sanity
> is to prevail :
> 	8.1.1. The DOCTYPE
> 	A DOCTYPE is a mostly useless, but required, header.
> 	DOCTYPEs are required for legacy reasons. When omitted,
> 	browsers tend to use a different rendering mode that is
> 	incompatible with some specifications. Including the
> 	DOCTYPE in a document ensures that the browser makes
> 	a best-effort attempt at following the relevant specifications.
> I would re-cast this along the lines of the following :
> 	8.1.1. The DOCTYPE
> 	A DOCTYPE is a much abused, but required, header.
> 	Until the introduction of HTML5, DOCTYPEs have -- in the
> 	main -- been mere eye-candy at the start of a putative
> 	HTML document.  With the introduction of HTML5, the
> 	DOCTYPE plays a vital role in determining the processing
> 	model for HTML documents.  If a well-formed HTML5 DOCTYPE
> 	is found (in the syntactically correct position), a
> 	conforming browser is REQUIRED to adopt the strict processing
> 	model described elsewhere in this specification.  If such
> 	a DOCTYPE is NOT found (or is found but in a position where
> 	its semantics are undefined), then a conforming browser is
> 	entitled to adopt any processing model that it deems fit.
> Philip Taylor

- Nicholas.

Received on Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:50:07 UTC

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