W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > September 2003

Re: Requesting a revision of RFC3023

From: Martin Duerst <duerst@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 13:40:35 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>, Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>
Cc: ietf-xml-mime@imc.org, WWW-Tag <www-tag@w3.org>

At 03:50 03/09/19 +0200, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:

>You want to change something that has been STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for over
>five years to (ideally) MUST NOT just because it could cause trouble
>when used improperly or with broken implementations. Today I am good
>with web standards if I use the charset parameter, tommorow I am bad
>with web standards if I do. What's next on #W3C? Use tables for layout
>because people could get CSS wrong and old browsers get some CSS wrong?
>I don't think this leads anywhere.
>The charset parameter is useful if you cannot or do not want to use an
>encoding declaration,

Yes. One particular example that came up recently is the case of IE
going into quirks mode when seeing an XML declaration on an XHTML file.
I guess we can assume that those sites serving different content types
based on browser type can somehow set the charset parameter.

>for content negotiation, for view source
>functionality, if you perform protocol operations that change the
>encoding without changing the document or if you have to deal with
>legacy applications that could break your document if no charset
>parameter is present.

I'd also want to mention server technology that links the 'charset'
parameter with the actual encoding. For example, for Java servlets,
     resource.setContentType ("type/foo;charset=encoding");
will not only produce the relevant header, it will also make
sure that the right conversion (from the internal UTF-16 to
the specified encoding) happens. It would be a bad idea
to disallow this because it works.

>I admit that there is probably no strong enough
>use case to introduce it, but we have the parameter already and it has
>been STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for ages across various W3C technologies.
>I can live with removing the STRONGLY RECOMMENDED status and an
>informative note that you typically do not need to specifiy the
>charset parameter but anything beyond that goes much too far.

I quite agree with this statement.

Regards,    Martin.

> >To put it another way, quoting Larry Wall: "An XML document knows what
> >encoding it's in."
>   ...
>   Having to re-learn how to do something is costly, creating new
>   programs to do the same thing in a different way is costly, and
>   converting existing documents and other resources to a different
>   format is also costly, so changes with little or no benefit should
>   be avoided.
>   ...
Received on Friday, 19 September 2003 14:05:19 UTC

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