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WHATWG Weekly: Sniffing, Peer-to-Peer, and hgroup

by Anne van Kesteren in Weekly Review

Another week, another WHATWG Weekly. While the change of name continues to excite the wider world — be sure to read HTML5 vs. HTML by Jeffrey Zeldman for some perspective — standards development marches on.

Media Type Sniffing

At the start of the week Adam Barth gave “whatwgians” a heads up on an update to the Media Type Sniffing specification, published by the IETF Web Security (websec) WG. It now includes rules for handling WebP, Ogg, WAVE, and WebM resources that lack a media type. This work was originally part of the HTML specification and as it progressed found a home at the IETF. The reason sniffing is being documented is that browsers are required to do it if they want to handle legacy content. On top of that, if their sniffing algorithms differ it is bad for security, as explained by the Secure Content Sniffing For Web Browsers paper.

As fonts are being uniformly sniffed by browsers as well due to the lack of registered media types for them I asked for the font sniffing rules to be included in Media Type Sniffing.

Real-Time Web

Patrik Persson with Ericsson Research reported they have been exploring peer-to-peer conversational video based on several APIs from the HTML specification. This is where the web platform is still lacking compared to plugins, but it is starting to look like that will change. Sorting out the details however will likely take time as browsers do not have camera integration so far and have no UDP or peer-to-peer network stack.

The network part is also still an unknown. There is no agreed upon standard protocol yet for this type of functionality. The RTC-Web effort plans to change that though.


Various people are unsatisfied with the design of the hgroup element and wish for it to be changed. Some want it to be removed until more research is done. And they may be right. There is some anecdotal evidence that the element is difficult for people to grasp — Bruce Lawson discussed it with developers and Lars Gunther experimented on students. There are a few bugs opened on it and Steve Faulkner is trying to get the HTML WG to do a poll.

Change Proposals

The W3C HTML WG currently has three issues open on the processing details of meta elements with their http-equiv attribute set to "content-type" (125, 126, and 148). Change proposals were written for all of these last week.

Kenny Lu, assisted by Henri Sivonen, is trying to get the u element conforming by writing a Change Proposal for issue 144. Furthermore he believes u as well as b and i should be marked presentational. On the HTML WG mailing list Ian Hickson argued that if we return b and i to be presentational elements in HTML and introduce u as a presentational element, we should bring all presentational elements back. Preferring consistency over design-by-committee.


6 Responses to “WHATWG Weekly: Sniffing, Peer-to-Peer, and hgroup

  1. also over at the W3C, 3 new substantive ARIA related bugs from the Protocols and formats working group:
    Define lexical processing models for ARIA attributes
    Explicitly state that ARIA states and properties are formal/normative HTML attributes
    Add role attribute to list of global attributes and add definition for it

  2. I think hgroup should not be removed from spec, because dropping it will remove an important feature of the outline algorithm.
    It will be impossible to make “subtitles” if this will be dropped without provide a new alternative.
    we need this or an alternative, otherwise we will have for years and years ambiguous outlines

    (I’m sorry for my poor English)

  3. I was talking about this:
    personally i don’t like none of the solutions proposed, including hgroup

    and, personally, I think <section> must be the only way to define new sections, and h1-6 must be always subtitles of the same <section> they were placed in

    anyway… i’m not updated with the latest html spec release, but what about using “adjacent Sibling” to identify a tagline?

    outline title
    tagline, subtitle