[whatwg] Re: Doctype FPI

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Jul 14 01:24:32 PDT 2004

On Tue, 13 Jul 2004, Terje Bless wrote:
> Could you explain how you intend to formally define -- in a
> machine-processable manner -- the syntax? Without the notion of
> Validity, how do you intend to machine-check conformance?

The question assumes that _with_ the notion of validity, you have a way to
machine-check conformance. This is a myth. See:



   and the answers: http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1029713028&count=1

> Since this corresponds to neither SGML nor XML, how do you envision
> bringing the toolset into being?

Since nobody has done it so far (RelaxNG is getting closer, but even that
is still a long way from conformance checking), why would I suddenly have
the responsibility for doing it?

> Since you seem to envision not actually having any DTD to speak of,
> where do you see named entity references fitting into the picture?

If the author wants entities, then the (otherwise mostly empty) DTD would
be the right place for them.

> What SGML Declaration do you intend be in effect?

I do not intend to pretend that current UAs even have the concept of an
SGML Declaration. (The only UA that I know of that supports the concept,
in fact, is the validator.)

> Do you intend to make use of the SGMLDECL facility from WebSGML?

I haven't really studied this, but since UAs don't support it, I guess

>> Then, assuming we don't ever introduce elements with optional tags
>> (which I highly doubt we will), we never need to update the DTD again.
> But assuming you don't -- Will the SGML Declaration reflect this (by
> e.g. removing the corresponding SHORTTAG features)?

Uh. If we introduced an element with optional end tags, it would be pretty
stupid of us to then disallow optional end tags, no? Or am I missing

> Will the conformance requirements require document instances be
> fully-tagged? Amply-tagged?

Not sure what you mean by "tagged".

>>(Before people say "but then we wouldn't catch the syntax errors like
>>putting a <foo> inside a <bar>!", let me remind you that DTDs are
>>completely inadequate for the task of describing the actual syntax
>>requirements of HTML, let alone Web Forms 2.0.)
> So because the facility is not perfect you propose to do away with it
> entirely?

Yes. People rely on DTDs in a way which has led to millions of authors to
have a false sense of having done the right thing, when in fact their
documents are sometimes worse than documents that are syntactically
slightly broken but semantically fine.

> I suggest a more constructive approach might be to provide the hooks in
> the DTD, and in the specification, for a suitable Schema language; and
> to actually publish a normative Schema for the resulting language.

Schemas aren't much better.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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