Re: HTML checker and specification

Tim Berners-Lee <>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 94 11:03:16 EDT
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From: Tim Berners-Lee <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: HTML checker and specification
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Dan Connolly has put a lot of effort into HTML checkers,
and is the editor of the HTML level 2 spec.

Check pointers from

for deatils of Dan's work and his collection of reference material.
HTML is defined syntactically by the HTML document type definition
and the SGML standard.  One could generate definitions in
other languages -- but most of the work would be in representing
the SGML angles.  (Might be interesting!)

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 94 15:34:18 +0200
Subject: HTML checker and specification
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Hi Tim,

As a result of my confusion over what constitutes "legal" HTML, I
have started doing a bit of work on a HTML checker (working as a CGI
script) - that is a program that checks the HTML, and *not* the links
(the job of html-analyzer). I don't think that I'm the only one who
has had problems putting together "legal" HTML, for example the NCSA
Mosaic home page does not use the <HEAD> and <BODY> elements. 

As an academic exercise, this has been so far useful, however I would
like to spend my time and energy in "Web constructive" ways, so I
don't want to reproduce the work someone else has done. I have looked
around, but can't find any program that does this, maybe you know of

If this is something that is useful to pursue, it would naturally be
of an advantage if it reflected the current state of accepted HTML
(reporting on what is old HTML etc. etc.), i.e. give some sort of
authoritative response. For that to be the case, the programs
behavior should be worked out in cooperation with the people at CERN
and ..... 

Related to this is the question of a formal specification of HTML. If
no such a specification exists, I would be interested in working on
one (maybe Z?), but again the question arises, what is the current
state of work on this at the moment, or does the SGML declaration of
HTML constitute a formal specification? I have looked at Liam Relihan's
document "The World-Wide Web - A Call for Formal Treatment", but as
yet, I have had no reply from him about what is actually happening here.

Any comments or information on the above would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time


  Chris Dodge  The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
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