Re: should CSS, HTML, etc. documents bear version information? (XMLVersioning-41?)

On 01/04/07, Lachlan Hunt <> wrote:
> Such classification and versioning has yet to prove useful in any way
> whatsoever.  They have in fact proven to be actively harmful to the  
> web
> by creating "walled gardens", particularly in the mobile market.

Any discussions on versioning is difficult to move forward without  
taking into account all classes of products in the context of a  

* authoring tools
* renderers
* libraries
* semantics (aka meaning) extractors
* validators, checkers, helping tools
* converters
* etc.

have all different constraints when dealing with documents. Analyzing  
the pros and cons of a version number has to be done in relation with  
each class of product.

# short digression:

Any *alive* language has a version scheme. The easiest example is  
human language. A word change drastically its meaning through time  
and doesn't lead to the same understanding or implementations. It is  
common to read about debates around interpretation of old scriptures.  
Words are used in a cultural and historical context. The version is  
the time when the word is used. So the first thing to do when we  
analyze a text is to know the date (year version) to be able to  
understand it.
Example: The [word "screen"][1] went from a medium to block to a  
medium to communicate. Complete change of semantics.

# back to markup language

A language has always a version. Sometimes explicit, sometimes  
implicit. The versioning question arises always as if should be part  
of the document or not.

There is an [active discussion][2] about this on the HTML WG mailing- 
list. I think the discussion
on versioning would be easier if the conformance requirements were  
For example, it might be mandatory for an authoring tool to specify  
the version of the language in the document, but for a renderer to be  
able to ignore it.
The requirements on the renderers, the documents, and the authoring  
tools are not necessary the same but still be compatible.

# side note for HTML

The same way there is the possibility to do
 <meta name="generator" content="[authoring tool X]" />

we can imagine that some people might need to do
 <meta name="version" content="html4.01" />


Karl Dubost -
W3C Conformance Manager, QA Activity Lead
   QA Weblog -
      *** Be Strict To Be Cool ***

Received on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 02:41:33 UTC