ATTN: Please comment on XHTML (before it's too late)

Paul Prescod paul at
Mon Aug 30 01:17:21 BST 1999

Tim Bray wrote:
> David.  Since an HTML <p> or <h2> or <br> has the same import for 
> 99.99999% of applications....

> HTML - which, we can be reasonably sure, will continue to have <A> elements
> with relatively comparable meaning to those of today.
So the solution to the namespace evolution problem is "just hope?" Is
that going to be sufficient when we start looking at purchase order and
mortgage application document types?

I claim that if HTML 5.0 is "similar enough" to HTML 4.0 that it can be
interpreted as HTML 4.0 then someone, somewhere should *say that*. An
application may only presume "close enough" if the application is not
mission critical (which, arguably, web browsers seldom are).

Namespaces alone cannot solve the namespace evolution problem. We are
trying to stretch them beyond their simple but important abilities.

> Which means that I, as a programmer, can *NEVER EVER EVER*
> write code that says 
> if (elementType() == 'a' and elementNamespace() == 'HTML')
>   doHTMLHyperlink()
> and hope to have it continue working in the face of future versions of

NEVER EVER EVER is a long time. We can do it tomorrow if we develop a
namespace evolution strategy. There is nothing difficult or magical
here. SGML architectural forms have allowed this for what, about 5 years

Of course on the Web our strategy would be based on W3C specifications.
We need a standards conformant way to say that "HTML 5.0 documents can
be treated as HTML 4.0 if you apply the following XSLT transform". It
sounds like a three page W3C REC to me. Or else we could do it right in
the schema. That's another valid way of going about it (and closer to
the architectural form paradigm).

 Paul Prescod

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