Re: SPaces and Tabs in HTML documents

Marc Andreessen (
Mon, 14 Jun 93 04:46:28 -0500

Tim Berners-Lee writes:
> >So far as I can tell, the HTML specification makes no mention of how
> >duplicated spaces and tabs are to be treated in HTML documents.
> You are right. Actually tabs are mentioned in the PRE part, but
> nowhere else. The general understanding (before Mosaic) was that
> - Multiple spaces should be respected as such (for example
> some people like them around punctuation) and should not
> be used for prettying up the source.
> - Tabs should not be used outside PRE
> - Within PRE, tabs are normal unix
> (>0 spaces to multiple of 8)

The general understanding before Mosaic?? The general understanding
we were under was that redundant spaces, newlines, tabs, etc. were not
significant, and that's the way Mosaic treats 'em. The concept that
multiple spaces should be respected as such is new to me -- where in
the online info was this stated?

> I would like to specify that multiple spaces be interpreted as such.
> Would this be a big problem for anyone?

Isn't it a violation of the SGML philosophy that we've all spent so
much blood, sweat, and tears trying to adhere to?

If we're going to start down this path, I'd like to see a line
containing nothing but whitespace to be considered an implicit
paragraph separator (<p>), as in LaTeX.

> > <p> Also, the two browsers have different ideas about whether the
> > ADDRESS tag marks a new paragraph or not -- www puts the address
> > flush right in a new paragraph, Mosaic simply switches to a
> > different typeface.
> There is in the hypertext document (and in the draft internet draft)
> a "typical rendering" defined for each of these elements. Browsers
> are not obliged to use this rendering. In the case of Mosaic, as far
> as I can see, nothing is ever justified other than left-justfied.
> That may be just the desiner's choice or a constraint of the
> implementation. It doesn't make them an invalid W3 browser, just
> not a typical one. (Even though there may be -- untill Cello gets
> seriouslsy deployed -- more XMosaics than anything other W3 clients)

It was a choice, made at least partially because documents can be
wider than the available window space, causing a horizontal scrollbar
to show up and info on the right side of the document to be hidden until
the window is scrolled. Didn't seem reasonable that information
should be shoved over where one might not even be able to see it.

> The ideal would be to make the styles user-configurable, with the
> "typical rendering" and the designer's personal favorites
> as an options.