HTML 4.0

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 Recommendation.

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 group

Please send detailed comments to www-html-editor@w3.org with the 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 specifications.
This specification extends HTML to support locally executable scripts including JavaScript, VBScript, and other scripting languages and systems.
This document describes frame documents, the HTML syntax for frames, frame implementation notes, and includes a new proposal for extensions.
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 objects.
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.

The Cougar DTD and related materials

This gives the document type definition for Cougar and the associated files needed for use with SGML tools such as James' Clark's nsgmls.

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.

After researching the issue, if you determine that your suggestion is novel and valuable, you should consider writing a W3C working draft or an Internet Draft.

Editors: W3C
Dave Raggett, Arnaud Le Hors
$Date: 1997/08/22 12:41:15 $
Dave Arnaud