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

liorean liorean at gmail.com
Wed Mar 14 12:25:07 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

On 14/03/07, Elliotte Harold <elharo at metalab.unc.edu> wrote:
> I could well have missed this, but has Microsoft actually asked for
> this? I didn't hear them ask for it, but I haven't read every message in
> the thread.

Well, first note something Cris Wilson said on his blog.
"On error correction standardization – I disagree with this goal of
the WHAT WG because I don't believe it is responsible for Microsoft to
cause any unnecessary compatibility problems (e.g. the problems that
would be caused if we changed error-handling behavior).  If the
WHAT-WG wants to standardize on EXACTLY what IE6 does for any given
error case, no matter how funky it may be, great, but I don't think
that's what they would consider doing."

While not asking for it, that is a strong indication they cannot
change the default handling, that this new handling has to be opt-in.

Second, yeah, they've asked for it. See Chris Wilson's opening statement here:

> I'd hate to add something for this purpose if Microsoft hasn't made a
> firm commitment to actually use it.

Well, it's not a commitment, just asking for developers giving them
the option. I do think it'd be most sensible to give them a "hint"
that if they are to do it some way, [x] is the preferred way, even if
the spec doesn't explicitly spell it out.  But then we need to come to
an agreement about what [x] should be.

> On 14 Mar 2007, at 15:16, liorean wrote:
> > 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.

On 14/03/07, Geoffrey Sneddon <foolistbar at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Other browsers introduced quirks mode to match buggy behaviour of
> others – what's to say that won't happen here, so that other browsers
> have an IE/Win DOM mode, which would therefore require a switch?

It won't happen because the situation is actually better on this point
- DOM code either uses only interoperable things, or it already forks
for iew on one side and standards DOM on the other. The competing
browsers have already proven that they don't need that iew
compatibility on the DOM side. The only browser that needs this new
switch is iew, because it's the only browser that has to support both
this proprietary DOM and the standards DOM.

> liorean wrote:
> > 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.

On 14/03/07, Robert Brodrecht <whatwg at robertdot.org> wrote:
> 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
> well.

Well, I have several issues with that:
- First of all, that developers have low awareness of the HTTP side of
the web. Most web developers are happily ignorant about HTTP headers,
and even if they know about them, it's mostly limited to some specific
problem, such as cache control headers.
- Second, that we already have MIME type switching (tagsoup/XML
modes), Content-Type: ...;charset=xyz switching (and corresponding
meta element), various cache behaviour switching, and DOCTYPE
switching. Please don't add yet another type of switch, just reuse the
most practical one of those already present.
- Third, it has to work when there's no HTTP headers, e.g. from
network shares or the file system.

> liorean wrote:
> > 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.

On 14/03/07, Robert Brodrecht <whatwg at robertdot.org> wrote:
> 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.

Something I'm very grateful for here, is that XHTML documents don't
have this problem. There is no quirks mode in XML in any XHTML aware
browser. And iew is not an XHTML aware browser. The super-standards
mode will be the only mode available in XHTML douments.

As for HTML 4.01 or XHTML1.0 as text/html, that's an area I disagree.
The text/html media type is tagsoup for all browsers. A certain set of
doctypes act as standards mode switches, but only as token strings,
not by actually meaning the document conforms to any particular HTML
specification. There is no meaning in those strings to any of the
browsers, except for their triggering different rendering modes.
HTML2.0, HTML4.01 of XHTML1.0 are all the same HTML if you ask the
browser. This mode is just another one added to the set of modes
provided by one particular browser.
David "liorean" Andersson

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