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Re: Replace HTML4 doctype declaration

From: Jacob Bachmeyer
Subject: Re: Replace HTML4 doctype declaration
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2021 20:01:50 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20090807 MultiZilla/ SeaMonkey/1.1.17 Mnenhy/

Gavin Smith wrote:
On Fri, Dec 17, 2021 at 09:08:24AM +0900, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:
Is there a place *now* where HTML4 is a requirement ? HTML5 is the only 
*current* standard and does not specifically target web applications.

We output HTML4 to get some flexibility in the output, but I am not sure
how useful the HTML4 doctype declaration is any more and perhaps we should
switch to the simpler HTML5 "<!DOCTYPE html>" header.  It looks like we are
trying to conform to a standard that nobody cares about anymore.

Does anybody object if I go and change texi2any to output this instead of
the HTML4 Transitional doctype?

As far as I remember the main difference is the use of the <tt> tag which
has been removed from the standard, but I am sure there are other usages
too.  It will have been discussed on this list before.

The GNU project's attitude to standards applies here:


"The GNU Project regards standards published by other organizations
as suggestions, not orders. We consider those standards, but we do
not “obey” them. "

I would suggest staying with HTML4; it is upwards compatible in that an HTML5 parser should generally be able to read it, and the HTML4 DOCTYPE actually declares a version, instead of the "eternal now" HTML5 uses. That may be suitable for shiny Web apps that change day-by-day and are always loaded from the cloud, but an actual fixed version is much better for documentation, which may be read from an archive years from now. There will be no question as to the correct interpretation of an HTML4 document, ever, while HTML5's versionless declaration leaves open future questions of "now which version of HTML5 is this?".

I cite the GNU project's official attitude towards standards in arguing to reject the deprecation of HTML4. At most, we might want to move towards emitting valid "strict" HTML4.01, which is more of a semantic markup than the "transitional" form.

-- Jacob

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