Rendering Unknown Elements and IE Support (was: Re: [whatwg] Suggestion: Implementation of Tabbed Forms)

Lachlan Hunt lachlan.hunt at
Sat Jul 3 19:05:24 PDT 2004

Matthew Raymond wrote:
>    No, they [unknown elements] degrade nothing at all. They stay in the DOM, but they're 
> really no better than comment blocks in IE. So instead of your above 
> <concurrent> example being rendered like this (with indent indicating 
> parent-child relationships in the DOM)...
> ...
> <concurrent style="display: none" />
> <exclusive style="display: none" />
> ...

   No, they don't.  The contents of an unknown element still render's on 
screen, so it doesn't get the style of display: none;.

   <p>a paragraph <unknown>containing unknown</unknown> elements</p>

would render as:

    a paragraph containing unknown elements

which is the same as

   <p>a paragraph <span>containing unknown</span> elements</p>

but not the same as

   <p>a paragraph <span style="display: none;">containing unknown</span>

   So, as you can see, they effectively degrade to unstyled span 
elements, except that they can never be styled.

>    Personally, I'm beginning to think we shouldn't worry about IE.
> We could just tell everyone running IE with Javascript disabled that if 
> they want to use Web Apps 1.0, they either need JS turned on or they 
> need to get a standards compliant browser.

   That's right, I don't think we should either.  I'd just tell all IE 
user's to get a standards compliant browser whether or not they had JS 
enabled, but then the buisiness and marketing people who we developers 
make websites for, won't allow us to write anything like that on the 
websites.  Normally, they wouldn't let us use anything that 90% of their 
audience won't get any benefit from either, but if Web Apps, Web Forms 
and Web Controls offers a clear benefit over supporting IE, then I think 
that situation could change quite rapidly. That's why I don't think the 
WHATWG should make the extensions to HTML, rather than just an XHTML module.

> You never know; Microsoft could turn around tomorrow and fix this 
> problem so that you can apply styling to unknown elements. /me shrugs.

Microsoft could do lots of things.  Since they effectively ceased 
development of IE over the last few years, they could:
* Make IE at least as standards compliant as Mozilla, Opera and Safari.
* Ship Firefox, Thunderbird and Opera with future versions of Windows
* Offer those user agents as updates via Windows Update,
* Advertise to their users the reasons why, and how to switch.
* Make IE open source, so programmers who actually cared about standards
   could help code it. (but that would probably reveal more security
   holes than Microsoft could deal with)

   Or anything else you can think of, but since Microsoft cares more 
about their market share for a dead browser rather than supporting 
standards, they're unlikely to do any of those any time soon.

Lachlan Hunt
lachlan.hunt at

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