Re: How prescriptive can/should we be? [Was: DL content model ]

Peter Flynn (
Thu, 17 Nov 94 05:30:38 EST

Dan writes [re DT/DD]
> Ok... we're trying to specify current practice, but we have on many
> occasions decided that some practices are bogus and won't be part of
> the standard.

I'm still not convinced we should specify current practice where it's
as bogus as (DT|DD)+. Either DL is a discussion list (in which case we
want something like (DT+|DD*)*) or it's not (in which case we allow
almost anything).

If users are random enough to have used DD to indent a paragraph when
they could have used BLOCKQUOTE I don't think we should encourage them.
Better we should plan for align= and margin= in the future.

> 1. "If a document is HTML 2.0 compliant, then it will display properly
> on contemporary browsers."
> This is largely true (except for browser bugs like comment parsing,
> and obscure SGML features like marked sections), and very much a goal
> of this specification.

And for those (many?) browsers which ignore cite, samp, kbd, etc

> 2. "If a document displays properly on contemporary browsers, then it
> is HTML 2.0 compliant."

All mice are elephants :-) and some users obviously believe this is true.

> This is obviously false, and not really a goal of the specification.
> User agents will probably always support non-standard crap. But each
> will do so in its own way. In fact, I challenge anyone to come up with
> a tractible defintion of "displays properly on contemporary browsers."

Like someone once wrote, <q>my definition of an agreeable person is one
who agrees with me</q>.

> 3. "If a document displays correctly on contemporary browsers, then
> there exists some HTML 2.0 compliant document that displays the same
> information."

Depends on the meaning of "correctly". Does that mean "as I want it"
(which could be anything) or "without obvious typographic errors"?

But in general this is a good test, thank you Dan.

> The one outstanding issue w.r.t this 3rd conjecture is <IMG> inside
> <PRE>. I'm surprised there wasn't more fuss about it.
> In my testing, I ran across many abuses of <PRE>. A common idiom was:

What about

> <PRE>
> <img src="figure1.gif">
> <b>caption for figure 1</b>
> </PRE>

because they want the caption centered :-)

> But <PRE> is also used to build forms and do all sorts of other crazy
> things where folks may be using <IMG> inside <PRE> for an effect that
> _cannot_ be recoded to conform to the current DTD.

Have you come across any examples where it would be impossible even to
approximate the result in a conformant manner?

> Given the relatively small amount of flak that I have received
> regarding this issue, I'm tempted to try to "slip this one by" and
> thereby discourage folks from abusing <PRE> in the future.


> In fact, in an earlier draft of the HTML DTD, <b>, <i>, and <tt> were
> allowed _only_ inside PRE, and <em>, <strong> etc. were allowed _only_
> outside PRE.

Yes, I think I remember bitching to someone about this at some stage.

> So two questions:
> 1. Do folks agree with my assessment of the above 3 conjectures,
> and
> 2. Should I change the DTD to allow IMG inside PRE?

Yes and Yes.