HTML Working Group T. Berners-Lee INTERNET-DRAFT MIT/W3C D. Connolly Expires: In six months May 31, 1995 Hypertext Markup Language - 2.0 CONTENTS 1. Introduction 2. HTML as an Application of SGML 3. HTML as an Internet Media Type 4. Document Structure 5. Character, Words, and Paragraphs 6. Hyperlinks 7. Forms 8. HTML Public Text 9. Glossary 10. Bibliography 11. Appendices 12. Acknowledgments Status of this Memo This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as ``work in progress.'' To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check the 1id-abstracts.txt listing contained in the Internet-Drafts Shadow Directories on (Africa), (Europe), (Pacific Rim), (US East Coast), or (US West Coast). Distribution of this document is unlimited. Please send comments to the HTML working group (HTML-WG) of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) at . Discussions of the group are archived at . In this draft, the first three sections are considered essentially finished. Sections 4 and 5 have been significantly revised and are open to comments, though I'm fairly happy with those parts. Section 6 is somewhat new: it collects all information about hyperlinking into one place. Sections 7 (forms elements) has also been revised, and there are a few points I'm not sure on. The glossary (section 8) has also been tweaked. Section 8 ``public text'' has been stable for some time, but as it's critical, I'd appreciate a careful review just the same. ABSTRACT The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a simple markup language used to create hypertext documents that are platform independent. HTML documents are SGML documents with generic semantics that are appropriate for representing information from a wide range of domains. HTML markup can represent hypertext news, mail, documentation, and hypermedia; menus of options; database query results; simple structured documents with in-lined graphics; and hypertext views of existing bodies of information. HTML has been in use by the World Wide Web (WWW) global information initiative since 1990. This specification roughly corresponds to the capabilities of HTML in common use prior to June 1994. HTML is an application of ISO Standard 8879:1986 Information Processing Text and Office Systems; Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The `"text/html; version=2.0"' Internet Media Type (RFC 1590) and MIME Content Type (RFC 1521) is defined by this specification. 1. Introduction The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a simple data format used to create hypertext documents that are portable from one platform to another. HTML documents are SGML documents with generic semantics that are appropriate for representing information from a wide range of domains. 1.1. Scope HTML has been in use by the World-Wide Web (WWW) global information initiative since 1990. This specification corresponds to the capabilities of HTML in common use prior to June 1994 and referred to as ``HTML 2.0''. HTML is an application of ISO Standard 8879:1986 _Information Processing Text and Office Systems; Standard Generalized Markup Language_ (SGML). The HTML Document Type Definition (DTD) is a formal definition of the HTML syntax in terms of SGML. This specification also defines HTML as an Internet Media Type[IMEDIA] and MIME Content Type[MIME] called `text/html', or `text/html; version=2.0'. As such, it defines the semantics of the HTML syntax and how that syntax should be interpreted by user agents. 1.2. Conformance This specification governs the syntax of HTML documents and the behaviour of HTML user agents. 1.2.1. Documents A document is a conforming HTML document only if: * It is a conforming SGML document, and it conforms to the HTML DTD (see 8.1, "HTML DTD"). NOTE - There are a number of syntactic idioms that are not supported or are supported inconsistently in some historical user agent implementations. These idioms are called out in notes like this throughout this specification. HTML documents should not contain these idioms, at least until such time as support for them is widely deployed. * It conforms to the application conventions in this specification. For example, the value of the HREF attribute of the element must conform to the URI syntax. * Its document character set includes ANSI/ISO 8859-1 and agrees with ISO/IEC 10646-1; that is, each code position listed in 11.1, "The ANSI/ISO 8859-1 Coded Character Set" is included, and each code position in the document character set is mapped to the same character as ISO10646 designates for that code position. NOTE - The document character set is somewhat independent of the character encoding scheme used to represent a document. For example, the ISO-2022-JP character encoding scheme can be used for HTML documents, since its repertoire is a subset of the ISO10646 repertoire. The critical distinction is that numeric character references agree with ISO10646 regardless of how the document is encoded. The HTML DTD defines a standard HTML document type and several variations, based on feature test entities: HTML.Recommended Certain features of the language are necessary for compatibility with widespread usage, but they may compromise the structural integrity of a document. This feature test entity enables a more prescriptive document type definition that eliminates those features. For example, in order to preserve the structure of a document, an editing user agent may translate HTML documents to the recommended subset, or it may require that the documents be in the recommended subset for import. HTML.Deprecated Certain features of the language are necessary for compatibility with earlier versions of the specification, but they tend to be used and implemented inconsistently, and their use is deprecated. This feature test entity enables a document type definition that eliminates these features. Documents generated by tranlation software or editing software should not contain these idioms. 1.2.2. User Agents An HTML user agent conforms to this specification if: * It parses the characters of an HTML document into data characters and markup according to [SGML]. NOTE - In the interest of robustness and extensibility, there are a number of widely deployed conventions for handling non-conforming documents. See 3.2.1, "Undeclared Markup Error Handling" for details. * It supports the `ISO-8859-1' character encoding scheme and processes each character in the ISO Latin Alphabet No. 1 as specified in 5.1, "The ISO Latin 1 Character Repertoire". NOTE - To support non-western writing systems, HTML user agents should support ISO-10646-UCS-2 or similar character encoding schemes and as much of the character repertoire of ISO10646 as is practical. * It behaves identically for documents whose parsed token sequences are identical. For example, comments and the whitespace in tags disappear during tokenization, and hence they do not influence the behaviour of conforming user agents. * It allows the user to traverse (or at least attempt to traverse, resources permitting) all hyperlinks in an HTML document. * It allows the user to express all form field values specified in an HTML document and to (attempt to) submit the values as requests to information services. 2. HTML as an Application of SGML HTML is an application of ISO 8879:1986 -- Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). SGML is a system for defining structured document types and markup languages to represent instances of those document types[SGML]. The public text -- DTD and SGML declaration -- of the HTML document type definition are provided in 8, "HTML Public Text". The term _HTML_ refers to both the document type defined here and the markup language for representing instances of this document type. 2.1. SGML Documents An HTML document is an SGML document; that is, a sequence of characters organized physically into a set of entities, and logically as a hierarchy of elements. The first production of the SGML grammar separates an SGML document into three parts: an SGML declaration, a prologue, and an instance. For the purposes of this specification, the prologue is a DTD. This DTD describes another grammar: the start symbol is given in the doctype declaration, the terminals are data characters and tags, and the productions are determined by the element declarations. The instance must conform to the DTD, that is, it must be in the language defined by this grammar. The SGML declaration determines the lexicon of the grammar. It specifies the document character set, which determines a character repertoire that contains all characters that occur in all text entities in the document, and the code positions associated with those characters. The SGML declaration also specifies the syntax-reference character set of the document, and a few other parameters that bind the abstract syntax of SGML to a concrete syntax. This concrete syntax determines how the sequence of characters of the document is mapped to a sequence of terminals in the grammar of the prologue. For example, consider the following document: Parsing Example

Some text. *wow*

An HTML user agent should use the SGML declaration that is given in 8.2, "SGML Declaration for HTML". According to its document character set, `*' refers to an asterisk character. The instance above is regarded as the following sequence of terminals: 1. TITLE start-tag 2. data characters: ``Parsing Example'' 3. TITLE end-tag 4. P start-tag 5. data characters ``Some text. '' 6. EM start-tag 7. ``*wow*'' 8. EM end-tag 9. P end-tag The start symbol of the DTD grammar is HTML, and the productions are given in the public text identified by `-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN' (8.1, "HTML DTD"). Hence the terminals above parse as: HTML | \-HEAD | | | \-TITLE | | | \- | | | \-"Parsing Example" | | | \- | \-BODY | \-P | \-

| \-"Some text. " | \-EM | | | \- | | | \-"*wow*" | | | \- | \-

2.2. HTML Lexical Syntax SGML specifies an abstract syntax and a reference concrete syntax. Aside from certain quantities and capacities (e.g. the limit on the length of a name), all HTML documents use the reference concrete syntax. In particular, all markup characters are in the repertoire of ISO 646 IRV. Data characters are drawn from the document character set (see 5, "Character, Words, and Paragraphs"). A complete discussion of SGML parsing, e.g. the mapping of a sequence of characters to a sequence of tags and data, is left to the SGML standard[SGML]. This section is only a summary. 2.2.1. Data Characters Any sequence of characters that do not constitute markup (see 9.6 ``Delimiter Recognition'' of [SGML]) are mapped directly to strings of data characters. Some markup also maps to data character strings. Numeric character references also map to single-character strings, via the document character set. Each reference to one of the general entities defined in the HTML DTD also maps to a single-character string. For example, abc<def => "abc","<","def" abc<def => "abc","<","def" Note that the terminating semicolon is only necessary when the character following the reference would otherwise be recognized as markup: abc < def => "abc ","<"," def" abc < def => "abc ","<"," def" And note that an ampersand is only recognized as markup when it is followed by a letter or digit: abc & lt def => "abc & lt def" abc & 60 def => "abc & 60 def" A useful technique for translating plain text to HTML is to replace each '<', '&', and '>' by an entity reference or numeric character reference as follows: ENTITY NUMERIC CHARACTER REFERENCE CHAR REF CHARACTER DESCRIPTION & & & Ampersand < < < Less than > > > Greater than NOTE - There are SGML mechanisms, CDATA and RCDATA, to allow most `<', `>', and `&' characters to be entered without the use of entity references. Because these features tend to be used and implemented inconsistently, and because they conflict with techniques for reducing HTML to 7 bit ASCII for transport, they are not used in this version of the HTML DTD. 2.2.2. Tags Tags delimit elements such as headings, paragraphs, lists, character highlighting, and links. Most HTML elements are identified in a document as a start-tag, which gives the element name and attributes, followed by the content, followed by the end tag. Start-tags are delimited by `<' and `>'; end tags are delimited by `'. An example is:

This is a Heading

Some elements only have a start-tag without an end-tag. For example, to create a line break, you use the `
' tag. Additionally, the end tags of some other elements, such as Paragraph (`

'), List Item (`'), Definition Term (`'), and Definition Description (`
') elements, may be omitted. The content of an element is a sequence of data character strings and nested elements. Some elements, such as anchors, cannot be nested. Anchors and character highlighting may be put inside other constructs. See the HTML DTD, 8.1, "HTML DTD" for full details. NOTE - The SGML declaration for HTML specifies SHORTTAG YES, which means that there are other valid syntaxes for tags, such as NET tags, `'; and empty end-tags, `'. Until support for these idioms is widely deployed, their use is strongly discouraged. 2.2.3. Names A name consists of a letter followed by up to 71 letters, digits, periods, or hyphens. Element names are not case sensitive, but entity names are. For example, `
', `
', and `
' are equivalent, whereas `&' is different from `&'. In a start-tag, the element name must immediately follow the tag open delimiter `<'. 2.2.4. Attributes In a start-tag, white space and attributes are allowed between the element name and the closing delimiter. An attribute typically consists of an attribute name, an equal sign, and a value, though some attributes may be just a value. White space is allowed around the equal sign. The value of the attribute may be either: * A string literal, delimited by single quotes or double quotes and not containing any occurrences of the delimiting character. NOTE - Some historical implementations consider any occurrence of the `>' character to signal the end of a tag. For compatibility with such implementations, when `>' appears in an attribute value, it should be represented with a numeric character reference. For example, `a>b' should be written `a>b' or `a>b'. * A name token (a sequence of letters, digits, periods, or hyphens). NOTE - Some historical implementations allow any character except space or `>' in a name token. In this example, is the element name, src is the attribute name, and `http://host/dir/file.gif' is the attribute value: A useful technique for computing an attribute value literal for a given string is to replace each quote and space character by an entity reference or numeric character reference as follows: ENTITY NUMERIC CHARACTER REFERENCE CHAR REF CHARACTER DESCRIPTION TAB Tab LF Line Feed CR Carriage Return Space " " " Quotation mark & & & Ampersand For example: First "real" example Note that the SGML declaration in section 13.3 limits the length of an attribute value to 1024 characters. Attributes such as ISMAP and COMPACT may be written using a minimized syntax. The markup: