[whatwg] Spellchecking proposal #2

L. David Baron dbaron at dbaron.org
Fri Jun 23 23:55:41 PDT 2006

On Saturday 2006-06-24 11:45 +0700, Alexey Feldgendler wrote:
> IMHO we should not rely on unspecified heuristics. In some browsers, they  
> work rather well, in some they might constantly fail. Leave heuristics for  
> invalid pages, quirks mode etc -- or document these heuristics.

I agree, but for a different reason.

The problem with heuristics is not that they might be better in some
browsers and worse in others.  The problem is that heuristics are only
heuristics when they operate on input written without knowledge of the
heuristics.  When the input was written with knowledge of the
heuristics, they become de facto standards.

In other words, authors will figure out what the heuristics are and then
write markup to match the heuristics rather than to match the semantics
of their content.  Authors will learn what triggers spellchecking (or
not) in Mozilla, and write whatever markup, however inappropriate, gives
the choice of spellchecking that they want.  Then other browsers will be
forced to copy whatever Mozilla did.

So if we're going to end up with a standard anyway, why not admit it and
figure out what it should be rather than ending up there accidentally?


L. David Baron                                <URL: http://dbaron.org/ >
           Technical Lead, Layout & CSS, Mozilla Corporation
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