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Re: Replace HTML4 doctype declaration

From: Gavin Smith
Subject: Re: Replace HTML4 doctype declaration
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2021 10:06:51 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.9.4 (2018-02-28)

On Sun, Dec 19, 2021 at 11:17:43AM +0900, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:
> > 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.
> I don't understand the worry about using <!DOCTYPE html> but sticking to 
> valid "strict" HTML4.01 output. We can "declare" in the documentation that 
> the output conforms to strict HTML 4.01 and be done with the header.

Yes, I propose we should stick to using HTML 4 features ("transitional", not

It's questionable how useful it is to have a version number in a file
format if reading software is not going to use it (apparently just
"<!DOCTYPE html>" is needed to turn off "quirks mode" but browsers
pay no attention to the DTD beyond that).  I doubt that a doctype
declaration would help with long-term compatibility of browsers with
documentation files.  Even if you like version numbers in file formats
that is not what is done with HTML and one project (Texinfo) won't change

It seems slightly absurd to output this long doctype declaration
that was mandated by old standards that has no effect on browsers,
while ignoring newer standards that don't mandate the DTD.  It is like
saying we believe that the HTML standards authorities made a mistake
in changing it and we trust the decisions of standards authorities
from the past but not from the present.

Finally, using the HTML4 doctypes makes Texinfo look outdated.

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