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[whatwg] HTML as a text format: Should <title> be optional?

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2009 22:42:15 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0906042236320.1648@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Fri, 17 Apr 2009, ?istein E. Andersen wrote:
>
> HTML can be used as an advanced text format, and people may want to 
> convert existing plain text to HTML.  For example's sake, consider the 
> following:
> 
> > A Short Document
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > This is a short plain-text document which someone
> > might want to convert into HTML.
> > 
> > As faithful readers of this list will recall,
> > /R?gles typographiques/ requires note names to be
> > typeset in italics (/ut/, /r?/, /mi/, etc.),
> > which is not possible in plain text.
> 
> This corresponds to the following HTML:
> 
> > <h1>A Short Document</h1>
> > 
> > <p>This is a short plain-text document which someone
> > might want to convert into HTML.
> > 
> > <p>As faithful readers of this list will recall,
> > <i>R?gles typographiques</i> requires note names to be
> > typeset in italics (<i>ut</i>, <i>r?</i>, <i>mi</i>, etc.),
> > which is not possible in plain text.
> 
> Unfortunately, this is not valid; the following two lines must be added 
> to the top:
> 
> > <!DOCTYPE html>
> > <title>A Short Document</title>
> 
> A <title> is usually a good idea, but is it really necessary to require 
> this for conformance?  After all, a <title> is not something which an 
> author is likely to forget, and leaving it out has no unexpected 
> consequences.

Leaving it out has a pretty important consequence, it breaks user 
interfaces that need to refer to the document, e.g. "bookmarks" features 
in browsers.


On Sat, 18 Apr 2009, Randy Drielinger wrote:
>
> If you're converting from a textfile, title could refer to the filename.
> 
> If it's an automated process, it can be added by default.
> 
> If it's manual, they'll have to remember the short html5 doctype and the 
> title element.

It does indeed seem easy to include it.


On Fri, 17 Apr 2009, Michael Enright wrote:
>
> If you use HTML as a text file format you can still let the receiving 
> parser infer all sorts of tags and allow yourself to write things like 
> Andersen's first HTML version. If you want a title, put a title element 
> in. Is the concern about validation? Can one really get in that much 
> trouble without a pedantic validator checking your work? Could the 
> validator's warning about missing doctype be taken as advisory? Is the 
> doctype a problem? It only affects the details of rendering (by turning 
> off quirks) and HTML5 is still not equivalent to pagemaker anyway, 
> especially without CSS.

I'm not sure what you are asking for here.


On Sat, 18 Apr 2009, ?istein E. Andersen wrote:
> 
> It could, but chances are that the original filename would typically be 
> less useful than the URL, which is what most browsers use when the 
> <title> element is omitted, so this rather sounds like an argument 
> against forcing authors to include a <title>.

I don't see why this would be the case. In practice, however, if one is at 
a loss as to what to use for the <title>, but one has an <h1>, then I 
would recommend using the <h1>'s contents.


> Yes, my concern is that a validator should be useful as an authoring 
> tool and not overwhelm the author with spurious errors.  As I see it, 
> leaving out <title> is very much like leaving out a paragraph of text 
> and not something that should matter for validation.

As it affects user interfaces, and since the cost of including a <title> 
is so low, I think it makes sense to continue to make it required.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 4 June 2009 15:42:15 UTC

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