W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 1998

Re: Transition (was Re: Capitalize across "span")

From: John Udall <jsu1@cornell.edu>
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 15:55:36 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: www-style@w3.org
Cc: Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com>
At 11:44 AM 2/9/98 -0800, Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com> wrote:
>That'd certainly set the henhouse acackle, eh? I hardly blame you for not
>doing this, but it does make me wonder whether HTML 4.0's "transitional"
>period won't, in fact, become a destination, particularly in view of the
>fact that XML is the first sort of Web-ready markup that key constituencies
>are embracing as a worthy document source format. If XML is source, then
>HTML is output: display. Why bother trying to preserve structure and
>semantics in a display format? All you need is DIVs, SPANs, tables, and
>forms. And support for "atomist" CSS - nothing too relative or
>inheritance-intensive, and preferably inline. And DHTML. Right? If you

	Wrong.  Or at least, not completely right.  "If XML is the source, then
HTML is the output: display," as you say.  But in order to be viable to the
commercial world, the HTML display must be fully compatable with legacy
browsers.  And I'm sorry to say, but there are still quite a few people out
there using Netscape 1.22 and 2.02. You get <DIV> in Netscape 2.02, but
there's no <SPAN> to be had. By supporting a full featured tag set HTML 4.0
transitional provides the opportunity for a truly smooth transition from
legacy browers to full XML support.  A company can generate valid HTML
documents for a variety of browser platforms while still maintaining a
single content-base in XML.

	Cutting yourself off from your customer base just because they don't have
the latest and greatest technology is one of the surest way to kill off a
business that I know of. It breeds ill will. Backwards compatability is
important. IMHO, the W3C is taking a wise path with HTML 4.0 transitional
that will allow business to continue to provide services even as they move
to newer and better technologies. 

>ditch all those troublesome structural/semantic tags, you can get passable
>results with CSS today in the 4.0 browsers. The transition may be nearing
	In general, I think Todd's perception here is valid. In an ideal world it
would be nice to move to just <DIV>, <SPAN>, <TABLE> and <FORM>, plus CSS.
Eventually we might get there.  My disagreement is that I think that the
transition will take longer.  HTML 4.0 transitional might in fact be a
destination of sorts. But if it is, it might be because it provides a
transition between the old technology and the new, rather than merely a
transition between versions of HTML standards.


>Todd Fahrner

Standard Disclamer -- The opinions expessed here are my own. They do not
represent official advice or opinions of Cornell Cooperative Extension 
or Cornell University.

John Udall,                                       
      Programmer/Systems Administrator            40 Warren Hall
Extension Electronic Technologies Group           Cornell University
Cornell Cooperative Extension                     Ithaca, NY 14853
email: jsu1@cornell.edu                           Phone: (607) 255-8127
Received on Monday, 9 February 1998 15:58:01 UTC

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