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   Re: XHTML 1.0 returned to HTML WG

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  • From: Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>
  • To: Don Park <donpark@docuverse.com>
  • Date: Fri, 05 Nov 1999 09:49:21 -0600

Don Park wrote:
> ><html:table><html:title/></html:table>
> >
> >And thanks to the one line spec, this is now legal. What the
> There is an arguable common sense when we refer to a document as
> 'HTMLish' and I believe your example violates that. 

I don't think really need to argue the inappropriateness of the
juxtaposition of the phrase "common sense" and the acronym "HTML." 

10 years ago, HTML didn't have a DTD and it became popular to add
features to it just by announcing them to a mailing list. Once money
became involved, software vendors abused this precedent to invent their
own proprietary variants. Then everybody and their brother got into the

Now *I thought* we were supposed to be cleaning up the mess caused by
that unfortunate start...not duplicating it.

> If people are
> going to abuse namespace like that, it is our job to knock some
> sense into them rather than wrap them up in diapers and ducktape
> everything with foams. 

I don't really see how having formal, implementable specifications falls
into the diaper and ducktape category. Does XML wrap us up in ducktape?
SAX? DOM? HTML 4.0? Perhaps three years ago we should have released a
one line specification: "SGML may now be used on the Web. DOCTYPE
declarations are now optional. Otherwise, use your common sense."


Given: The XHTML namespace is only useful if we can write generic
software to work with it.

Given: We can only write generic software to work with it if we know how
the vocabulary is going to be used.

There must, therefore, be either explicitly or implicitly, an agreed
upon grammar for the vocabulary.

Why wouldn't we make that grammar explicit so that we could rely on our
understanding of the specification instead of our "common sense" both in
writing our own software and in holding vendors to the terms of our

Although I will, admit on occasion to being a purist, in this case it
seems to me that what I am advocating is common sense. The whole point
of an HTML namespace is to increase interoperability right? Do you
really think that that's going to happen through the judicious
application of common sense and vendor-directed violence?

 Paul Prescod

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