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

re: browser compatibility with implementation bugs...

From: Rick Gessner <rickg@netscape.com>
Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 20:18:55 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <356372E0.D14B66AF@netscape.com>
To: thom@netscape.com, www-style@w3.org
Perhaps you'll be pleased to learn more about the next-generation layout
engine from Mozilla/Netscape.In particular, the system will offer
dynamic DTD support via an XP-COM interface so that developers can plug
in a DTD of their choosing. Therefore, to get full
W3C-HTML4.0 compliance, you can provide a compliant DTD and voila!

Of course, the Mozilla team would be interested in enlisting the aid of
those individuals who would like to help make this wildly successul. : )

Rick

-------------------------------------------------------------------

  On Mon, 18 May 1998, Ian Hickson wrote:

  > Of course, this will require reading the DOCTYPE - and inferring one
should
  > it be missing - and parsing according to the correct DTD. (I am day
dreaming
  > about the day where we see DTDs shipped with a browser... which are
actually
  > used by the parser!)

  I don't think this is a good idea. In the matter of bugward (ha!)
  compatibility I think the best thing to do is to simply check the DTD.
If
  it's non-existant, enable bug compatibility mode. If it's existant,
disable
  it. Since bug compatibility will mostly be added checks (no space
without a
  </P>, allow improperly nested lists and so on), you simply disable
these
  checks if the user supplied a Document Type Declaration, or even just
an
  HTML 4.0 declaration. This way older documents will work with the
bugs,
  while newer ones will work according to spec. And after a browser
generation
  you can phase out the old stuff completely. Yes, there *will* be
people who
  wrote bad HTML 4.0 and included a DTD and have their pages broken (or
more
  likely, appear simply a little different than they expected). That's
what we
  *want*. It's a lot better than people writing *proper* HTML 4.0 and
having
  their pages illegible or inaccessible.

  Personally I find the whole idea ludicrous. Every single HTML author
ends up
  coding according to what NS or MS asks them to, and then both
companies
  refuse to change their recommendations because they're afraid they'll
  contradict their own recommendations. When will this end? You can't
produce
  a program that supposedly handles a well-defined concept (HTML, HTTP,
Java,
  whatever) and force the author/programmer to change his style to suit
your
  broken implementation. You've got it backwards. But I'm sure that I'm
not
  really the one who's got the problem here. I'm wondering how the
people on
  the W3C's HTML WG feel, the people who slaved for so long to give us a

  specification that incorporated all the broken features (HTML 3.2) and
then
  another specification that is backward-compatible with those features
(HTML
  4.0) and then sat back and watched the industry (of which some of them
were
  part of) ignore their efforts.

  What was the point of 3.2 and 4.0? Why do Netscape and Microsoft pay
their
  subscriptions to the W3C and the salaries of the employees who work in
its
  working groups if they value bugs more than the specifications they
*pay*
  for? Mr. Wilson brought forth the example of MS Office
incompatibilities
  causing user gripe. This is not a good analogy. The web is not the
same as
  your hard disk. I'm confident that if Microsoft came up with a version
of IE
  that truly, faithfully, completely followed a *specific* standard (and
not
  "parts of HTML 4.0", meaning not even proper HTML 2.0), you'd be
seeing
  little "best viewed with IE" buttons all over the Web in a matter of
days.

  What every author of Web pages wants these days is the ability to go
to
  the W3C's web site, print a copy of the latest recommendation (or the
latest
  recommendation he knows is implemented) and be able to code to that,
without
  testing it against any browser or looking up any other recommendation.
And
  that is the most valuable feature browser manufacturers can offer
their
  customers, period.

  -- Stephanos Piperoglou -- sp249@cam.ac.uk -------------------
  All tribal myths are true, for a given value of `true'.
                           - Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent
  ------------------------- http://www.thor.cam.ac.uk/~sp249/ --
Received on Thursday, 21 May 1998 01:52:23 GMT

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