SC34 N424

Document description and processing languages

TITLE: Editors' Report on ISO/IEC 15445
SOURCE: Roger Price, David Abrahamson
STATUS: For submission to SC34
ACTION: For information
DATE: 2003-04-21
REFERENCE: JTC1/SC34 N385 - Systematic review of ISO/IEC 15445:2000

Editors' Report on ISO/IEC 15445:2000 (ISO-HTML)

The referenced document asks NBs to comment on IS 15445 (ISO-HTML) as part of the systematic review of this International Standard. To assist this process, your editors have prepared this report on ISO-HTML.

Publication of ISO-HTML

The first edition of ISO-HTML was published 2000-05-15. Since then, a Technical Corrigendum, TC1, has been approved but not yet published. Instead, the International Standard will be re-published as "First edition 2000-05-15. Corrected version 2003-##-##". All the corrections made by TC1 will be incorporated into the republished IS. The document "TC1" will be made available as a "Supplement" to the IS describing the changes made, but this Supplement will not be an official publication.

We are grateful to Joanna Goodwin, Assistant Director of Production, for her help in the re-publication of ISO-HTML.

Maintenance of the IS

The corrections of defects 1 through 6, which include the additional facilities specified by the Web Accessibility Initiative are now included in the IS. The remaining defects 7 through 9 are so minor that we believe that they do not merit a Technical Corrigendum.

Rôle and importance of ISO-HTML

In addition to satisfying the requirements in clause 6 of the IS, the principal rôle of ISO-HTML is to:

  1. Emphasize the stable core of the W3C Recommendation.
  2. Reinforce the W3C text. The W3C Recommendation for HTML 4.01 sometimes "recommends" or "deprecates" practices, but the requirement cannot be made normative by the W3C because of the need for backward compatibility. There is no backward compatibility requirement for ISO-HTML and such requirements can be made normative. Examples of such practice include requiring the presence of major elements (eg the <HTML> tag) and ensuring that documents are correctly structured by insisting that sections and subsections are properly nested.

ISO-HTML defines a subset of the W3C's Recommendation for HTML 4.01 in the mathematical sense: that is, any document which conforms to ISO-HTML also conforms to the HTML 4.01 Strict.

We have learnt informally that the reinforcement and the stability provided by ISO-HTML have been of assistance to the W3C in maintaining the integrity of their recommendation against corporate pressure. Attempts to influence standards specifications are an unfortunate reality.

The measure of the adoption and use of ISO-HTML should be the perceived stability of the W3C Recommendation. The W3C have in turn used the HTML 4.01 Recommendation as a basis for their XHTML Recommendations.

Electronic availability of ISO-HTML

The IS is currently available at

The User's Guide has been extensively improved, and is available at

Free validation service for ISO-HTML

The W3C offer a free validation service for ISO-HTML as well as their HTML Recommendation. This service does not require the user to have a web page server.

Production of IS and Guide using ISO-HTML as an architectural form

The International Standard 15445:2000 and its User's Guide (the Guide is not an ISO/IEC document) are now produced from the same source document. Marked sections indicate the additional material to be included in the Guide. This guarantees that the Guide and IS are technically aligned, and simplifies maintenance. The markup uses the "preparation" DTD defined by ISO-HTML with an internal subset not available in HTML.

The IS and the Guide are generated from the source markup using the open source sgmlnorm utility with the DTD for ISO-HTML imposed as the architectural form. The normalization performed by sgmlnorm:

  1. Validates the input markup.
  2. Resolves the entity declarations in the internal subset and the entity references in the IS and Guide. This includes placing the current SGML declaration and DTD in the annexes, and setting up links to specific points in the W3C Recommendation.
  3. Restricts the output markup to the element types of ISO-HTML and ensures that ISO-HTML conforms to itself and to the "strict" version of the W3C's Recommendation for HTML 4.
  4. Includes and excludes the required marked sections.
  5. Replaces "<" by "&lt;" where needed in the CDATA marked sections used for examples.

Roger Price,   rpriceatcsdotumldotedu