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   Re: ATTN: Please comment on XHTML (before it's too late)

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  • From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
  • To: xml-dev <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 13:08:02 -0400

David Megginson wrote:
> 2. If the intention of XHTML is to continue to create new Namespaces
>    for future versions of XHTML, you run into a serious deployment
>    problem where old software will not work properly with new
>    documents.  

How can you know, in 1999, whether Internet Explorer 5.0 will work with
HTML 6 documents? You cannot. If robust behavior is your primary goal
then you must presume not. 

It is extremely suspect that an HTML 2.0 browser could just display an
applet-bearing page without the applet and presume that that's "good
enough." And EVEN IF that assumption is usually valid in the world of
human-read documents there is no way you can build an ecommerce
infrastructure on the hope that future versions will magically degrade
nicely. We need a real graceful degradation strategy.

> If you don't believe that versioning is a problem on
>    the Web, then look at the lack of even Java 1.1 applets for general
>    use (because Netscape 3.0 doesn't have a Java 1.1 VM).

What would you have JavaSoft do? Pretend that Java 1.1 programs are
really Java 1.0 programs so that the crash occurs deep in the JVM
instead of at the point that the problem is first detected? "Hmmm. It's
looking for a method I don't have. I'll just return NULL and hope it

No version 1.x software can magically handle version 2.x data without a
well-defined graceful degradation mechanism. You are asking the XHTML
people to pretend that they have that mechanism when they do not.

 Paul Prescod

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