W3C's next version of HTML
HTML 4.0 is the name for the next W3C specification of HTML, which
is intended to supercede HTML 3.2. It
was previously known by the code name Cougar. This is being
developed by the W3C HTML Working Group, which includes Adobe,
Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Netscape Communications
Corporation, Novell, SoftQuad, and Sun Microsystems.
The first public draft for HTML 4.0
was announced on Tuesday, July 8th, and issued together with a press release. The draft will undergo
changes during the review period before becoming a W3C Proposed
What's new in HTML 4.0?
HTML 4.0 builds upon previous work on W3C's Recommendation for
HTML 3.2. Among the extensions are style sheets, scripting,
improvements for printing, forms and tables, better access to HTML
for people with disabilities, the addition of frames, and support for
the world's languages including right to left and mixed text.
W3C is developing a more sophisticated approach for
representating meta-data than is currently feasible with the LINK
and META elements. This new mechanism is intended to include the
ability to treat meta-data as first-class objects, to include
information describing the properties and relationships of other
entities, and to reliably authenticate meta-data use digital
signatures. This activity is being coordinated between the PICS "NG" Working Group and the DSIG "Collections" Working Group.
Published Drafts that were developed for Cougar
These drafts were developed over the period from 1995 to 1997
by the W3C HTML working group, and have formed the basis for the
HTML 4.0 specification. The drafts are listed here to for your
interest, but please consult the HTML 4.0
working draft for the normative specification.
Please remember that W3C working drafts are subject to change at
any time. This is work in progress and does not imply endorsement
by, or the consensus of, either W3C or members of the HTML working
Please send detailed comments to
name of the draft in the subject line. We cannot garantee a personal
response, but we will as much as we can. Public
discussion on HTML features takes place on www-html.
- This draft introduces the linking mechanisms for HTML and
provides a few basic recommendations describing current practice,
based upon discussions with search engine vendors, e.g. to
define the human language the document is written in, use of META
for keywords and the use of the robots.txt mechanism, currently used
by less than 5% of sites.
- This specification extends HTML to provide support for style
rules expressed in separately specified notations. It is no longer
necessary to extend HTML when new presentation styles are needed.
Style rules can be (a) included with individual HTML elements to
which they apply, (b) grouped together in the document head, or (c)
placed in associated style sheets. This specification does not
specify particular style sheet notations, leaving that to other
- This specification extends HTML to support locally executable
languages and systems.
- This document describes frame documents, the HTML syntax for
frames, frame implementation notes, and includes a new proposal for
- This describes proposed extensions for rich forms and
interactive documents. Particular emphasis is placed upon
access for people with disabilities.
- This specification extends HTML to support the insertion of
multimedia objects including Java applets, Microsoft Component
Object Model (COM) objects (e.g. ActiveX Controls and ActiveX
Document embeddings), and a wide range of other media plug-ins. The
approach allows objects to be specified in a general manner and
provides the ability to override the default implementation of
- This specification extends HTML to support additional named
entities for all characters in ISO 8859-1, all characters
representable by glyphs in the Adobe Symbol font, and entities
required for Internationalisation - in particular for bidirectional
text - and characters from that portion of CP-1250 which lie outside
the character repertoire of ISO 8859-1.
- RFC 1867
- This specifies a mechanism for information providers to express
file upload requests uniformly, and a MIME compatible representation
for file upload responses. This also includes a description of a
backward compatibility strategy that allows new servers to interact
with the current HTML user agents.
- RFC 1942
- This specification extends HTML to support a wide variety of
tables. The model is designed to work well with associated style
sheets, but does not require them. It also supports rendering to
braille, or speech, and exchange of tabular data with databases and
spreadsheets. The HTML table model embodies certain aspects of the
CALS table model, e.g. the ability to group table rows into thead,
tbody and tfoot sections, plus the ability to specify cell alignment
compactly for sets of cells according to the context.
- RFC 2070
- This document is meant to address the issue of the
internationalization (i18n, i followed by 18 letters followed by n)
of HTML by extending the specification of HTML and giving additional
recommendations for proper internationalization support. A foremost
consideration is to make sure that HTML remains a valid application
of SGML, while enabling its use with all languages of the world.
This gives the document type definition for Cougar and the
associated files needed for use with SGML tools such as James'
Other Suggestions about HTML Specifications
Before suggesting new features for HTML, please review the HTML activity statement, as well as the WWW FAQ and the archives of www-html and other discussion forums.
researching the issue, if you determine that your suggestion is novel
and valuable, you should consider writing a W3C
working draft or an Internet
Arnaud Le Hors
$Date: 1997/08/22 12:41:15 $