Re: Nonstandard HTML

Subject: Re: Nonstandard HTML
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 10:51:43 -0500

Hi folks,

This is a picky point, but I just want to be certain that the difference
between SGML and HTML is clear.

I keep seeing HTML described as "a subset of SGML." This is incorrect for at
least two reasons.

First, the word "subset" implies that SGML is a collection of defined tags, of
which the HTML tags form a small set. However, SGML is not a collection of
tags, but is instead a defined way to create languages -- like HTML -- for
different applications. The name "Standard Generalized Markup Language" is
somewhat misleading on this point itself. But there is no pre-defined set of
tags that form SGML.

Second, HTML began life based on the principles of SGML, but it was not really
formalized in a DTD (Document Type Definition -- the place where those tags are
defined) until later on. And as we all know, none of the browsers bother to
parse and validate the HTML they get anyway, so the client side of the Web
doesn't treat HTML as an application of SGML in any real sense of the word.
This is in large part why the Web succeeded so fantastically in its early
stage. Also, why we're struggling with this very question of non-standard
extensions, et al, now. The Web is a real object lesson that the SGML community
is busy trying to digest.

I know that I am being picky here, but it seems to me that we could all come to
wrong conclusions if we didn't keep the relationship between the two clear.

Best regards,

/chet

Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions
465 South Street http://www.lds.com
Morristown, NJ 07960 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
201-971-0100 [Phone] 201-971-0103 [FAX]

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