[whatwg] Allow trailing slash in always-empty HTML5 elements?

Mihai Sucan mihai.sucan at gmail.com
Wed Nov 29 08:31:19 PST 2006

Le Wed, 29 Nov 2006 17:00:46 +0200, Robert Sayre <sayrer at gmail.com> a  

> On 11/29/06, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt at lachy.id.au> wrote:
>> I do not think it's a good idea to make the trailing slash conforming.
>> Although it is harmless, it provides no additional benefit at all and it
>> creates the false impression that the syntax actually does something.
> It does do something, in systems that think they are using XML
> (whether they actually are is another matter). It's possible it will
> prevent  many information-free validation errors, and give the HTML5
> more credibility as a result. Warning people about <img /> in the
> validator is a waste of their time.
>> It's not a
>> good idea to confuse them any more by giving the impression that it
>> works for some elements but not others.  It's better to just say it
>> doesn't work at all and forbid it in all cases.
> Better? This is an opinion, and it's not backed up by data. So far, it
> looks like Sam has the data on his side. People do it, and it tends to
> work interoperably.

I want to show support to Sam's proposal. I agree with him.

I see HTML 5 as a specification that tries to be tailored to the current  
needs of the web developers, trying to cope with all the bad markup, tag  
soup on the web. It also defines complex algorithms for error recovering,  
everything supposedly leading one day to UAs with HTML 5 implementations,  
that will render all tag soup, and proper markup, the same  
(interoperability - somewhat utopic dream, nonetheless we must not give  
up). Of course, the algorithms described won't work "as wanted" with all  
tag soup, but the algorithms are trying to be all best-balanced, a  
compromise between the bad, the ugly and the good.

All this leads me to say that Sam's proposal is a good one. One cannot  
expect that WordPress, all content management systems, all web developers,  
etc, will start working with pure HTML 5, or pure XHTML 5, in a single  
project, or even in a single page.

XML parsers break if the code has no trailing slashes where needed, the  
majority of HTML parsers do not break if the author uses trailing slashes.

Some web developers also make use, on the server, of XHTML and XML  
documents, which end up being sent to the UA - parts of, or entirely. Why  
trailing slashes need to break conformance? If trailing slashes are not  
accepted into HTML 5, then many other bad things should be banned. From  
the start, the error recovery should be eliminated, and treated as XML  
parsers do: stop on error, with no recovery.

Web developers want to be able to share code between XHTML and HTML  

The trailing slash issue should be inexistent. Today many sites use this  
trailing slash in HTML pages. Even if those pages do not validate today, I  
consider they should validate, as long as they validate without the  
trailing slashes.

Take for example PHP which is used by many confused web developers. PHP  
provides the nl2br() function which searches for new lines and adds <br  
/>. Using that, they automatically invalidate their site. And that's only  
a very simple function.

Very few web developers are not bozos [1]. :)

[1] http://hsivonen.iki.fi/producing-xml/

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