Re: Objections to draft-ietf-html-spec-01.txt

Francois Yergeau (
Thu, 23 Mar 95 22:48:34 EST

Terry Allen <> writes:
>There need be no conflict. MIME must be in the service of SGML;

Hmmm, may I suggest that SGML, as a standard, should be in the service
of the Web, and not the opposite.

>| From: (Albert Lunde)
>| I think Larry introduced the language in question in an attempt to make the
>| HTML 2.0 spec work for other single character sets than ISO Latin-1, using
>| a MIME-like character set parameter. (This was in part a way to
>| postpone/avoid getting into general multilingual issues by indicating a
>| mechanism for the simple MIME-like cases.)
>Regardless of motivation, we solved the charset encoding problem for 2.0
>by arbitrarily limiting ourselves to 8859-1 and providing an HTML SGML

Last time I looked, Larry's language was inserted into the draft
precisely because 8859-1 is not sufficient for today's Web. The goal
of HTML 2.0 is to describe current practice, and there is much more
than Latin-1 on the net today. Take a look at for an idea of
how restrictive 8859-1 is.

>declaration. Larry's language, amended, might be suitable for 2.1, in
>which we should aim to achieve the goals cited by both of you, but it
>is unneeded for 2.0, conflicts with our other remarks about charsets
>therein (and our SGML standards language, which was my original point),
>and prejudges the outcome of further discussion.

It does not prejudge *future*discussion*, it acknoledges *reality*.

>You need only 1) point to an SGML decl, a matter SGML Open is working on
>(though no method of doing it is prescribed in ISO 8879!), or 2) rely on
>standardized instructions for constructing and SGML decl given the
>charset parameter.

Since these instructions do not have to be transmitted over the net, I
don't think they NEED to be spelled out for each and every charset
before that charset is considered acceptable. The problem is trivial
for ISO 8559-x charsets, which have ASCII as a proper subset. If I
receive a properly labeled ISO-2022-JP HTML document, I will know how
to parse it (hint: the markup is to be found in the ASCII portions,
not in the JIS X 208 portions).

Your standard SGML tools are not up to the task? This is an
implementation issue, not an Internet standards issue.

The proper question to ask is: does it work? The fact that there is
an unambiguous way to parse a properly labeled document, together with
the fact that it is here today (although the lack of proper labeling
makes it ackward), tell me that it works. Then it should be in, and
not in 2.x N months from now. The first W in WWW will not wait.

François Yergeau <>       | Qui se fait brebis le loup
                                         | le mange.