[whatwg] Using the HTML5 DOCTYPE as a new quirksmode switch

On Sat, 10 Mar 2007, whatwg at robertdot.org wrote:
> On Mar 10, 2007, at 8:38 AM, Mihai Sucan wrote:
> > There's no way to advertise the document as HTML 5, and it's certainly 
> > not the purpose of the specification to do so.
> This is a problem.  It is especially a problem now that the W3C is 
> working on their version of HTML 5.  When I asked Ian Hickson how WHATWG 
> would handle divergence in the W3C spec [1], he said he "intended to 
> make every effort to keep the two in sync." [2] While I appreciate his 
> effort and I fully believe that he will do his best, we are dealing with 
> a body (i.e. the W3C) who have a history of stubbornness and 
> unwillingness to work with important members of the community. [3] The 
> future is still undecided, but I don't think it is a good idea to 
> operate under the assumption that the W3C will copy and paste the entire 
> WHATWG HTML 5 spec.
> [1] http://blog.whatwg.org/w3c-restarts-html-effort#comment-2020
> [2] http://blog.whatwg.org/w3c-restarts-html-effort#comment-2022
> [3] http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2006/08/14/angry-indeed/

Right now the two groups are using exactly the same spec, byte-for-byte, 
just with a different header.

> Even if DTDs are non-normative and antiquated in the HTML 5 spec, it at 
> least provides some method for authors to indicate their intentions.  
> If my intention was to write a document conforming to HTML 3.2, I can 
> use the HTML 3.2 DTD to tell anyone in the future that I was using a 
> certain set of elements.

Wouldn't simply the act of using those elements be enough to say which 
elements you used?

> If browsers pay no attention to DTDs, as WHATWG has said time and again, 
> browsers must be rendering "the latest and greatest" markup.  If in 50 
> years, the "i" element has been out of use for 40 years, and browsers 
> stop rendering that element and validators throw errors on that element, 
> the document still conforms to the DTD.  It's not the author's fault 
> that the document doesn't perform the way it intended.  Ideally, the 
> browser should care about DTDs.

If you're arguing that browsers in 50 years should have two modes, one 
with the obsolete <i> element not supported, and one with the obsolete <i> 
element supported (to support old content), why wouldn't it be better to 
simply have one rendering mode, which supported <i>?

> The WHATWG HTML 5 spec provides no way to specify what version / fork of 
> HTML the author intended to use.  Even if browsers don't pay attention, 
> I think it is a shame that there is no way to specify (if for nothing 
> else, to future-proof documents).  I blogged about this in more detail. 
> http://robertdot.org/2007/03/08/html-5-whatwg-versus-w3c.html

I don't understand why it matters what version you're using. Or, for that 
matter, how most authors are supposed to work out which version they're 

> It seems the WHATWG is staunchly against DTDs, even if it has an 
> appropriate use (e.g. emails in this thread talking about XML entities).

It's perfectly possible to use DTDs and entities when using XML with 
XHTML5. Nothing in the spec prevents that. (Browsers somewhat prevent it, 
since they don't fetch DTDs, though.)

> I've mulled over this awhile.  Since DTDs aren't normative in browsers, 
> perhaps a "link" element with a "rel=specification" and an 
> "href=http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/" (for example) 
> would be a new way to say, "this is the specification I used to create 
> this document."  It is easier to remember than the DOCTYPE DTDs on 
> pervious versions of HTML, and it is much more human-readable than DTDs.  
> It addresses my concerns, and doesn't use DTDs.

Why does it matter which spec you used?

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Received on Monday, 18 June 2007 21:51:46 UTC