W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > May 2008

Re: MathML entities don't degrade gracefully

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 08:32:17 +0000 (UTC)
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, Public MathML mailing list <www-math@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0805230827270.12911@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> I think the inclusion of the MathML entities in HTML5 regardless of a 
> MathML context violates the Degrade Gracefully design principle of the 
> HTML WG. The entities don't add anything to the expressiveness of the 
> language: anything that you can express with the entities you can also 
> express with numeric character references or by using UTF-8 directly. 
> However, when an author uses entities that have not been traditionally 
> supported by HTML, the rendering of the document in legacy user agents 
> will be worse than in the situation where numeric character references 
> or direct UTF-8 is used.

It will be worse, but it won't be dramatically worse.

In the transition period, people can avoid using the new entities. 
However, I don't see a good reason to prevent their use in the future. If 
we ever want to use new entities, we have to add them.

We've added entities before (e.g. &euro;) without major problems.

> As for application/xhtml+xml, the situation is even worse. DTDs don't 
> work on the Web[1] and are mostly useless legacy. So far, HTML 5 has 
> encouraged DTDlessness for XHTML5--and rightly so. Using the MathML 
> entities in XML requires a doctype, because otherwise the document would 
> be ill-formed. Browsers won't fetch a DTD based on the doctype, so we 
> need to consider existing magic public IDs and potential future public 
> IDs. Either way, the situation will be bad from the point of view of the 
> Degrade Gracefully design principle [...]

I don't think it's a critical problem if the XML authoring experience is 
worse than the text/html one. After all, it's already worse for many other 
reasons. What's special about this one?

The entities in HTML5 don't apply to XHTML5. The spec says as much.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Friday, 23 May 2008 08:33:00 UTC

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