[whatwg] HTML5 DOCTYPE suggestion

Tom Duhamel tom420.duhamel at gmail.com
Sat Feb 21 08:27:42 PST 2009

On Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 7:37 AM, <mikemikeb at verizon.net> wrote:

>  I have a suggestion for HTML5 involving the currently planned doctype, <!DOCTYPE
> HTML>.
> It came to my mind that there could be many a web developer, looking to
> create a basic webpage for friends, that might use the HTML 5 doctype
> thinking that the doctype is used, or even needed, just for basic HTML,

The doctype is not only used and needed, it is mandatory. All authors should
write compliant web pages even for what you call a "basic webpage for

> cheapening the perception of the HTML5 "brand", so to speak.

HTML 5 is not a brand, it is the latest version of the HTML standard.

> If the doctype is <!DOCTYPE HTML5> instead, then those developers are much
> more likely to understand that the doctype is for HTML5 only, and respect
> the doctype more.

<!DOCTYPE HTML> is not for HTML 5 only, it is for all past and future
version of HTML. All documents written with the current version of the
standard will remain compatible with whatever the standard is in 20 years
from now. Past versions of the standard required more details in the
<!DOCTYPE ...> tag, which was a mistake which is not fixed by the current
draft. Including a version number was a problem and browsers never really
used that information correctly, they simply tried to render a page with the
knowledge they had over the current standard at the time of release.

> By the way, if the HTML5 doctype is changed, I suggest notifying the
> Internet Explorer team of the change quicker than other browser makers,
> because Microsoft is a) so close to IE 8 release, and b) not going to
> release new IE versions as often as Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, Camino,
> Konquerer, Flock...

I am sure Microsoft is aware of the progress of the HTML 5 draft and will
implement the new features in due time. However there is no need to notify
anybody about the 'new' doctype. You could take a very old browser, give it
<!DOCTYPE HTML> and they will know what to do right away. The HTML standard
always told browsers how to render unknown elements they may encounter,
making them compatible with any future version of the standard. Furthermore,
no version of the standard ever told browsers to stop rendering certain
elements, it only told authors to stop using some deprecated features.

I've been using <!DOCTYPE HTML> in all my HTML documents for the past few
months and can tell it is used correctly by browsers (it's an HTML page, I
want it to be rendered using strict rules -- and we don't want what was
called 'transitionnal' in the past). My web pages are HTML compliant, they
just don't use the unimplemented features yet. They are compliant with HTML
4 too, by default.

> Take care,
> Michael Ball
> Kensington, MD
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