Re: HTML 3.2: TEXTFLOW is confusing

Joe English writes:

> Gerald Oskoboiny <> wrote:
> > The APPLET declaration in this DTD requires some kind of content between
> > the opening and closing APPLET tags, or, if there's no content, you have
> > to explicitly include the dummy TEXTFLOW element, like this:
> > 
> >     <applet code=foo.class width=100 height=100>
> >       <textflow> </textflow>
> >     </applet>
> > [...]
> > I think applets with no content may be quite common -- if the applet is
> > just eye candy, it seems appropriate to leave the applet's content empty
> > (as using ALT="" is appropriate for eye-candy images.) I'm not looking
> > forward to trying to explain to people why TEXTFLOW is necessary...
> The current scheme strikes me as highly unintuitive too.
> The rules seem to be:
>     * Browsers that can handle an APPLET element
>       are supposed to ignore the content of the APPLET element;
>     * The only time authors need to include start- and
>       end-tags for the TEXTFLOW element is when they
>       don't want to include a TEXTFLOW element.
> > Are there any other SGML hacks that can be used to make <TEXTFLOW>
> > unnecessary for empty APPLETs?
> [ I don't think a "hack" is what is needed here. ]

Isn't TEXTFLOW already a "hack"? (If not, please read what I wrote above
as, "Are there any other SGML features that can be used to make <TEXTFLOW>
unnecessary for empty APPLETs?")

I was just hoping for something that doesn't require authors to supply a
bogus element whenever they want to create APPLETs with empty content.

> > If it's not possible to get around this some other way, is there a better
> > name than TEXTFLOW for this dummy element? (like "NOAPPLET" or something?)
> Yes, an optional "NOAPPLET" or "ALTERNATE" element (with required 
> start- and end-tags) would have made more sense.  That wouldn't 
> be compatible with current practice, though... 

..which is why the TEXTFLOW element is necessary, right? If it's not there,
code like the following:

    <applet code=foo.class width=100 height=100>
      You must be java-impaired.

..doesn't validate.

So: are there any better ways to handle this than this use of TEXTFLOW?
Preferably something that doesn't require authors to know about TEXTFLOW?
(Joe: when I asked for "other SGML hacks", I had you specifically in mind,
hoping you'd give us some magic DTD that removes the need for a textflow-
like element. :-) Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "hack", though...)

If not (if this is the only way to handle this problem), is it worth
renaming the bogus TEXTFLOW element to NOAPPLET, just so it makes more
sense to authors who have to include it explicitly?

Gerald Oskoboiny <>      Phone: +1-403-492-7698
Systems Analyst, Information Systems                   Fax: +1-403-492-7172
Office of the Registrar and Student Awards            University of Alberta
<URL:>       <URL:>

Received on Friday, 31 May 1996 18:16:28 UTC