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

Hunter, David dhunter at
Mon Aug 30 17:18:48 BST 1999

> From: David Megginson [mailto:david at]
> For those of you who haven't noticed, XHTML has gone to Proposed
> Recommendation (PR) status at the W3C:
> Unlike the last XHTML Working Draft, this PR has reverted to defining
> *three* separate XHTML Namespace URIs (transitional, strict, and
> frameset) with the threat of more HTML Namespaces in the future.

I have another proposal, which is similar to Mr. Megginson's html:version
attribute:  why not use processing instructions?  I know, a lot of people
seem to think processing instructions are inherently *bad*, but this may be
a case where they are indeed justifiable.

It seems that there are a common set of XHTML tags amongst all three
flavours of XHTML, but that those tags may be interpreted differently by the
*application*, depending on if the application is set to strict, or loose,
or whatever.  So why not say that "a P is a paragraph is a P", but if you
want that "P" to be treated differently, then tell the application to do so?

Remember that the although the purpose of XML was to define and share
information for any purpose, HTML had the stricter design goal of simply
conveying information to a human.  (Usually visually, through a web browser
of some sort, although there are also applications which can do things like
convey the information audibly to the visually impaired, etc.)  So we have
the case here where the HTML tags mean the same thing across all three
flavours, but may be interpreted differently by the application, to be
displayed differently, or to give different audible information, etc.

Are there cases in XHTML 1.0 where there is a <loose:p/> which *means*
something different than a <strict:p/>, or are they just *treated
differently by the application*?  I would rather see a namespace which
specifies that "this is XHTML", so that an XML processor could just hand the
XML off to an XHTML processor; that processor could then see the

<?xhtml version="strict"?>

and treat the XHTML accordingly.  (The W3C working group could even go so
far as to specify the default, if that <?html?> processing instruction isn't
included, or make it mandatory.)

David Hunter
david.hunter at
MediaServ Information Architects

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