W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > June 2001

FW: Flagging & in URL in HTML 4.01 transitional type.

From: Peter Foti (PeterF) <PeterF@SystolicNetworks.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 14:13:46 -0400
Message-ID: <A10A983C9DFBD4119F0300104B2EA6B7085CE3@ZIPPY>
To: "'www-validator@w3.org'" <www-validator@w3.org>

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Foti (PeterF) 
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 2:12 PM
To: 'mike@minivend.com'
Subject: RE: Flagging & in URL in HTML 4.01 transitional type.

> Since every browser in the world must tolerate &, 

No, actually most do tolerate the & without encoding, however, it is
foolish to say that every browser MUST tolerate it.  There is a reason
why the & must be escaped, you just aren't bothering to ask why.

Consider this:  certain characters (like < or > ) must be escaped so
that the browser knows that it is not part of the HTML code.  For
example, if I want my page to display:

0 < 1 & 2 > 1

then the browser needs to know that this is not part of an HTML tag.  So
the special characters need to be escaped.  So < becomes &lt; and >
becomes &gt;
But now we have created a new special character that the browser has to
look for... the & signifies the beginning of an escaped sequence now.
So therefore, whenever a browser sees an & it needs to see if there's an
entity that represents a special character.  Therefore, to display an &,
we escape it with &amp;

> my opinion is that
> this is an artificially created tempest in a teapot, created by the
> failure of the validation suite writer to provide a 
> "pedantic" mode. Or
> the failure of the specification writers to create an 
> exception for this
> in the transitional type.

Your opinion is flawed.

> If browsers didn't accept this construct, 98% of the web 
> would break. A
> significant portion of the web would break for the forseeable future
> as well, so it is not a simple question of coalescing support to move
> in the direction of compliance.

98% eh?  That's quite a bit of invalid code floating around then, isn't
it?  I think your guess is extremely high (and wrong) and that you have
no data to support your theory.  However, the fix for this would of
course be for lazy web page designers to do it right the first time and
use &amp; instead of &.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you want more
standards based, clean code to be developed) most browsers will simply
understand that a standalone & without any known escaped character
sequence following it, is just an ampersand, and they will display it as

> In my opintion that validation is pedantic, and should certainly not
> be flagged in the HTML 4.01 transitional type.

In my opinion, you should maybe do some more homework on the topic.

> I do appreciate the work of the W3 organization -- don't mistake that,
> please.  In this case -- messy work, W3. Bad show.
> -- 
> Regards,
> Mike Heins
> Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon
Received on Friday, 8 June 2001 14:09:00 UTC

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