[whatwg] Re: ISO 639 / ISO 3166 / ISO 4217 inputs

Malcolm Rowe malcolm-what at farside.org.uk
Thu Aug 26 07:47:58 PDT 2004

Ave Wrigley writes:
> Is it feasible to have the UEs update their lists dynamically? The ISO
> lists are hosted in a (fairly) reliable place. After all, this sort of
> thing is done for referencing standard DTDs in non-standalone XML pages.

Without commenting on the DTD/XML issue, of which I know nothing, yes, it's 
feasible. Probably not directly from the ISO website, but it wouldn't be 
that hard (I believe) to create a Firefox extension that provides updates 
for the relevant files, then use the auto-update mechanism to push updates. 
However, it's not done at the moment. 

>> However, there's a difference between placing a country/language/region 
>> dialog in an esoteric corner of preferences, where you might expect that 
>> users could enter their language code (en-gb-hixie?) by hand if
>> necessary, and forcing it directly onto forms for all users. 
> again ... you are not forcing it anywhere! If you want to build your own
> country list in a form, that's fine. If you are happy to have a list
> built for you based on whatever the current ISO standard is, then this
> input help you to do so.

I meant that the web site would be forcing it upon the users. However, I 
guess that's not too distinct from what they already do, albeit in their own 

Was there a concrete proposal that degrades sensibly? I suppose you could do 
something like: 

<select .. type="iso3166-2">
 <option value="en">England
 <option value="fr">France

Then, I suppose a client that was aware of the 'type="iso3166-2"' format 
could replace the contents of the <select> with a list of its own. If the 
page author provided a list item that the UA wasn't aware of, the UA could 
leave that in the list, meaning that all the options provided by the server 
would be included in the list. One advantage of this is that the 
language/country names could be replaced with versions in the user's native 

However, this really changes the semantics to <select editable>, which means 
that the server would have to be able to sensibly deal with 'unknown' 
values. Plus, in this case, there's no way for the server to restrict 
entries to ones it can deal with (what if your web site can only provide an 
interface in English, French, and Spanish - do you use a typed list or 
not?). And if you don't augment the list with new entries, I don't really 
see the benefit. 

Hmm, maybe it's better to let the site operator decide when they can accept 
new options. 

>> > Also, note that vendors typically want to stay WELL away from 
>> > specifying stuff like this.
> ... which is why you specify it in term of an international standard,
> and sidestep the responsibility ;-)

Yeah, that works really well. 


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