Re: html HEAD and current html spec

Daniel W. Connolly (
Thu, 27 Oct 1994 12:16:04 +0100

In message <>, "" writes:
>What is genereal status og the HEAD element in HTML, most
>implementations that I have seen do nothing with it? I assume people
>are planning on using it. Can any one fill me in better on this? I
>recall some discussion on this a while ago but it slipped into my bit
>bucket :(

HEAD is part of the HTML 2.0 standard. In theory, it allows you to,
for example, quit looking for TITLE or LINKs as soon as you see the
end of the HEAD element. In practice, not enough users put <HEAD>
tags in their documents to make this optimization useful.

Hmmm... you're using a parser that implements OMITTTAG, like a
validating SGML parser, you can make use of this. The way this
works is that the parser knows that a </head> tag has to go before
any tags like <h1> or <p>.

Anyway... the long and the short of it is that in theory, if you
have an 80MB html file, you shouldn't have to scan the whole thing
for the title. In practice, HEAD isn't used for anything.

>also where can I get a relavant set of HTML specs and HTTP specs

For HTML, see:

For HTTP, what you've seen is probably the latest thing that's been
written. There's been some noise about an IETF working group for
HTTP, but I don't know anything for certain.

>Most of the definitions are pretty vague in the old
>expired internet drafts. Do I just have read ALL the source code from
>ALL the client/servers to get the definative usage, unfortunately
>I've already done that :( AACK ).

Well, at least you can :-} At least you don't have to pay for a license
just to read the source.

But you're right: this is a pitiful state of affairs. You're
certainly welcome to revise any of the standards drafts and clear
up these issues.

On the other hand, TimBL has actually gotten the W3 Consortium off the
ground (HaL got its invitation a couple weeks ago). Hopefully, it will
staff up soon and the standards documents will be maintained there.

>I am trying to create some apps and I don't want to step on existing
>potential capabilities hidden in the spec ( or code if thats the
>definative standard )

You're on the right track. Browsing the web, reading the source code,
and posting to www-talk is pretty much the state of the art. Sad,
but true.

Daniel W. Connolly "We believe in the interconnectedness of all things"
Software Engineer, Hal Software Systems, OLIAS project (512) 834-9962 x5010