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

Robert Brodrecht whatwg at robertdot.org
Wed Mar 14 10:47:16 PDT 2007

liorean wrote:
> 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.

I think that is why they changed the subject of the thread.  That thread
is still available for discussion.  I mentioned some versioning stuff that
happened to strike a vein.

> The HTML5 spec doesn't even need to deal with that.

I wholeheartedly agree.  That is why I proposed an HTTP header that would
be completely proprietary and controlled by Microsoft.  It could be either
a real header or a meta http-equiv tag.  The only advantage to having some
item in the HTML 5 spec is that it would be something authors already use,
thus saving a few extra seconds to create the HTTP header.  The
disadvantage is that I  think the IE team would want something they could
apply to HTML 4 and XHTML documents as well.  So, it'd have to be
something backward compatible.

> 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.

I don't think they are either.  I was initially hoping to solve two
problems at once (lack of versioning and the IE switch).  After thinking
on it, I came to the same conclusion as you: a IE-only switch shouldn't be
part of any spec.  A quick way to offer the deliverable is with an http
header.  It can be easily added to existing sites with .htaccess files, as

> 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.

It won't work as a switch if you want Super-Standards Mode in HTML 4 and
XHTML documents.  I know I want that option.

Robert <http://robertdot.org>

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