[whatwg] META elements

Anne van Kesteren fora at annevankesteren.nl
Mon Aug 30 07:30:17 PDT 2004

It might be a good thing to describe META elements in a bit more detail 
and match them with current implementations. HTML 4.01 currently states 
that the 'http-equiv' attribute is supposed to be used by servers[1], 
while current practice is that browsers do something with this in 
*text/html documents*.

If WHATWG can define this somehow it might be easier for new UAs to know 
what to implement instead of trying to figure out how other UAs are 
doing it.

I believe that current UAs first look at the HTTP header. If no 
'charset' parameter has been given the document is spidered for the META 
element. If it has been found the character encoding is taken and the 
document re rendered with the found character encoding. If no character 
encoding is found the UA uses some mechanism to find it or assumes 
iso-8859-1, the default for 'text/html'. (I can be wrong here, this is 
just an indication of something the specification should tell.)

An emphased part should notice that this does not apply to XHTML documents.

(Maybe an additional note that search engines don't really look at META 
elements anymore might be a good thing too. Especially if that note has 
an ID attribute to point to it :-).)


  Anne van Kesteren

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