[whatwg] Versioning (was: Re: Using the HTML5 DOCTYPE as a new quirksmode switch)

liorean liorean at gmail.com
Wed Mar 14 08:16:49 PDT 2007

> On Mon, 12 Mar 2007 01:01:38 +0100, Matthew Ratzloff
> <matt at builtfromsource.com> wrote:
> > The Web has done great so far without it?  When "strict" mode was
> > introduced, all existing websites didn't suddenly start rendering under
> > it.  It was opt-in.  Versioning is just a formalized way of opting into a
> > certain rendering method.

On 14/03/07, Anne van Kesteren <annevk at opera.com> wrote:
> FWIW: Introducing strict mode has been quite painful and still is. Every
> time you encounter a rendering bug on some web page you have to check on
> what rendering mode the page relies (quirks, almost standards or
> standards) and then figure out what the behavior should be for quirks and
> almost standards by reverse engineering other popular browsers. Next time
> such a thing comes up we should just "fix" the specifications instead in
> my opinion to keep things predictable for authors and "easy" for
> implementors.

Well, the original question wasn't about versioning in particular as
much as it was Microsoft asking developers (not spec writers) for
something, anything, that they can use to tell whether the author has
written the document for HTML5 and more important the standard DOM,
so they can avoid breaking pages on the web that assume the old iew
tagsoup parser and quirky not-quite-standard DOM. One thing in
particular - I don't think iew can at all change the events model to
follow standard DOM in their compatibility-with-the-web mode. Other
browsers evidently can work with standard DOM, so the spec isn't
broken. It's just that Microsoft have painted themselves into a corner
and need a way for authors to tell iew that their documents don't rely
on their old proprietary DOM-tagsoup-CSS handling.

The HTML5 spec doesn't even need to deal with that. If the spec
provides a way for authors to "sing" their documents as not relying on
old iew behaviour, all Microsoft needs is a hint from the developers,
or the spec writers, that they can use that to switch. Other browsers
can calmly carry on doing whatever they were doing before.

I don't think Microsoft are asking for a versioning scheme, they don't
intend to make a new locked down mode that needs replacing in the
future. They already have a CSS switch, now they need a DOM switch to
accompany that. With ie7 they proved they weren't afraid of breaking
sites using the standards rendering mode in the name of improving
their standards support on the CSS side, so in all likelyhood the DOM
switch will similarly not require versioning. Microsoft absolutely
REQUIRE this switch however. Without it there is no way for them to
correct their behaviour even if all other browsers are doing just fine
with complying to the standard DOM.

This is a switch out of backwards-compatibility-hell for a single
specific browser they are asking for, not something any other browser
vendor should have to worry about. And I don't see any reason why
<!DOCTYPE html> shouldn't be the switch seeing as developers are
already used to DOCTYPEs as mode switches.
David "liorean" Andersson

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