2 Common infrastructure
Generally, when the specification states that a feature applies to the HTML syntax or the XHTML syntax, it also includes the other. When a feature specifically only applies to one of the two languages, it is called out by explicitly stating that it does not apply to the other format, as in "for HTML, ... (this does not apply to XHTML)".
This specification uses the term document to refer to any use of HTML,
ranging from short static documents to long essays or reports with rich multimedia, as well as to
fully-fledged interactive applications. The term is used to refer both to
objects and their descendant DOM trees, and to serialised byte streams using the HTML syntax or XHTML syntax, depending
In the context of the DOM structures, the terms HTML
document and XML document are used as defined in the DOM
specification, and refer specifically to two different modes that
can find themselves in. [DOM] (Such uses are always hyperlinked to their
The term XHTML document is used to refer to both
Documents in the XML document mode that contains element nodes in the HTML
namespace, and byte streams labeled with an XML MIME type that contain
elements from the HTML namespace, depending on context.
For simplicity, terms such as shown, displayed, and visible might sometimes be used when referring to the way a document is rendered to the user. These terms are not meant to imply a visual medium; they must be considered to apply to other media in equivalent ways.
The term "transparent black" refers to the color with red, green, blue, and alpha channels all set to zero.
The specification uses the term supported when referring to whether a user agent has an implementation capable of decoding the semantics of an external resource. A format or type is said to be supported if the implementation can process an external resource of that format or type without critical aspects of the resource being ignored. Whether a specific resource is supported can depend on what features of the resource's format are in use.
For example, a PNG image would be considered to be in a supported format if its pixel data could be decoded and rendered, even if, unbeknownst to the implementation, the image also contained animation data.
An MPEG-4 video file would not be considered to be in a supported format if the compression format used was not supported, even if the implementation could determine the dimensions of the movie from the file's metadata.
What some specifications, in particular the HTTP specification, refer to as a representation is referred to in this specification as a resource. [HTTP]
The term MIME type is used to refer to what is sometimes called an Internet media type in protocol literature. The term media type in this specification is used to refer to the type of media intended for presentation, as used by the CSS specifications. [RFC2046] [MQ]
A string is a valid MIME type with no parameters if it matches the
media-type rule defined in section 3.7 "Media Types" of RFC 2616, but does not
contain any U+003B SEMICOLON characters (;). In other words, if it consists only of a type and
subtype, with no MIME Type parameters. [HTTP]
A resource's critical subresources are those that the resource needs to have available to be correctly processed. Which resources are considered critical or not is defined by the specification that defines the resource's format.
data: URL refers to URLs that use the
data: scheme. [RFC2397]
To ease migration from HTML to XHTML, UAs conforming to this specification
will place elements in HTML in the
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml namespace, at least
for the purposes of the DOM and CSS. The term "HTML elements", when used in this
specification, refers to any element in that namespace, and thus refers to both HTML and XHTML
Except where otherwise stated, all elements defined or mentioned in this specification are in
the HTML namespace ("
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"), and all attributes
defined or mentioned in this specification have no namespace.
The term element type is used to refer to the set of elements that have a given
local name and namespace. For example,
button elements are elements with the element
button, meaning they have the local name "
(implicitly as defined above) the HTML namespace.
2.1.3 DOM trees
The term root element, when not referring to a
Document object's root
element, means the furthest ancestor element node of whatever node is being discussed, or the node
itself if it has no ancestors. When the node is a part of the document, then the node's root
element is indeed the document's root element; however, if the node is not currently part
of the document tree, the root element will be an orphaned node.
When an element's root element is the root element of a
Document object, it is said to be in a
element is said to have been inserted into a
document when its root element changes and is now the document's root
element. Analogously, an element is said to have been removed from a document when its root element changes from being the
document's root element to being another element.
Document of a
Node (such as an element) is the
Document that the
ownerDocument IDL attribute returns. When a
Node is in a
Document then that
Document, and the
ownerDocument IDL attribute thus always returns that
The term tree order means a pre-order, depth-first traversal of DOM nodes involved
When it is stated that some element or attribute is ignored, or treated as some other value, or handled as if it was something else, this refers only to the processing of the node after it is in the DOM.
A content attribute is said to change value only if its new value is different than its previous value; setting an attribute to a value it already has does not change it.
The term empty, when used of an attribute value,
Text node, or
string, means that the length of the text is zero (i.e. not even containing spaces or control
The construction "a
Foo object", where
Foo is actually an interface,
is sometimes used instead of the more accurate "an object implementing the interface
An IDL attribute is said to be getting when its value is being retrieved (e.g. by author script), and is said to be setting when a new value is assigned to it.
If a DOM object is said to be live, then the attributes and methods on that object operate on the actual underlying data, not a snapshot of the data.
In the contexts of events, the terms fire and dispatch are used as defined in the
DOM specification: firing an event means to create and dispatch it, and dispatching an event means to follow the steps that propagate
the event through the tree. The term trusted event is
used to refer to events whose
isTrusted attribute is
initialised to true. [DOM]
The term plugin refers to a user-agent defined set of content handlers used by the
user agent that can take part in the user agent's rendering of a
Document object, but
that neither act as child browsing contexts of the
Document nor introduce any
Node objects to the
Typically such content handlers are provided by third parties, though a user agent can also designate built-in content handlers as plugins.
One example of a plugin would be a PDF viewer that is instantiated in a browsing context when the user navigates to a PDF file. This would count as a plugin regardless of whether the party that implemented the PDF viewer component was the same as that which implemented the user agent itself. However, a PDF viewer application that launches separate from the user agent (as opposed to using the same interface) is not a plugin by this definition.
This specification does not define a mechanism for interacting with plugins, as it is expected to be user-agent- and platform-specific. Some UAs might opt to support a plugin mechanism such as the Netscape Plugin API; others might use remote content converters or have built-in support for certain types. Indeed, this specification doesn't require user agents to support plugins at all. [NPAPI]
A plugin can be secured if it honors the semantics of
For example, a secured plugin would prevent its contents from creating pop-up
windows when the plugin is instantiated inside a sandboxed
2.1.6 Character encodings
A character encoding, or just encoding where that is not ambiguous, is a defined way to convert between byte streams and Unicode strings, as defined in the WHATWG Encoding standard. An encoding has an encoding name and one or more encoding labels, referred to as the encoding's name and labels in the Encoding standard. [ENCODING]
An ASCII-compatible character encoding is a single-byte or variable-length encoding in which the bytes 0x09, 0x0A, 0x0C, 0x0D, 0x20 - 0x22, 0x26, 0x27, 0x2C - 0x3F, 0x41 - 0x5A, and 0x61 - 0x7A, ignoring bytes that are the second and later bytes of multibyte sequences, all correspond to single-byte sequences that map to the same Unicode characters as those bytes in Windows-1252. [ENCODING]
This includes such encodings as Shift_JIS, HZ-GB-2312, and variants of ISO-2022, even though it is possible in these encodings for bytes like 0x70 to be part of longer sequences that are unrelated to their interpretation as ASCII. It excludes UTF-16 variants, as well as obsolete legacy encodings such as UTF-7, GSM03.38, and EBCDIC variants.
The term a UTF-16 encoding refers to any variant of UTF-16: UTF-16LE or UTF-16BE, regardless of the presence or absence of a BOM. [ENCODING]
The term code unit is used as defined in the Web IDL specification: a 16 bit
unsigned integer, the smallest atomic component of a
DOMString. (This is a narrower
definition than the one used in Unicode, and is not the same as a code point.) [WEBIDL]
The term Unicode code point means a Unicode scalar value where possible, and an isolated surrogate code point when not. When a conformance requirement is defined in terms of characters or Unicode code points, a pair of code units consisting of a high surrogate followed by a low surrogate must be treated as the single code point represented by the surrogate pair, but isolated surrogates must each be treated as the single code point with the value of the surrogate. [UNICODE]
In this specification, the term character, when not qualified as Unicode character, is synonymous with the term Unicode code point.
The term Unicode character is used to mean a Unicode scalar value (i.e. any Unicode code point that is not a surrogate code point). [UNICODE]
The code-unit length of a string is the number of code units in that string.
Vendor-specific proprietary user agent extensions to this specification are strongly discouraged. Documents must not use such extensions, as doing so reduces interoperability and fragments the user base, allowing only users of specific user agents to access the content in question.
When vendor-neutral extensions to this specification are needed, either this specification can be updated accordingly, or an extension specification can be written that overrides the requirements in this specification. When someone applying this specification to their activities decides that they will recognise the requirements of such an extension specification, it becomes an applicable specification for the purposes of conformance requirements in this specification.
Someone could write a specification that defines any arbitrary byte stream as conforming, and then claim that their random junk is conforming. However, that does not mean that their random junk actually is conforming for everyone's purposes: if someone else decides that that specification does not apply to their work, then they can quite legitimately say that the aforementioned random junk is just that, junk, and not conforming at all. As far as conformance goes, what matters in a particular community is what that community agrees is applicable.
2.3 Case-sensitivity and string comparison
Comparing two strings in a case-sensitive manner means comparing them exactly, code point for code point.
Comparing two strings in an ASCII case-insensitive manner means comparing them exactly, code point for code point, except that the characters in the range U+0041 to U+005A (i.e. LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A to LATIN CAPITAL LETTER Z) and the corresponding characters in the range U+0061 to U+007A (i.e. LATIN SMALL LETTER A to LATIN SMALL LETTER Z) are considered to also match.
Comparing two strings in a compatibility caseless manner means using the Unicode compatibility caseless match operation to compare the two strings, with no language-specific tailoirings. [UNICODE]
Except where otherwise stated, string comparisons must be performed in a case-sensitive manner.
A string pattern is a prefix match for a string s when pattern is not longer than s and truncating s to pattern's length leaves the two strings as matches of each other.