A few days ago, I expressed some puzzlement about the fact that
the new version of IE5 seemed not to be validating EAD-encoded
documents, even where a DOCTYPE statement was supplied. There has
been some discussion of this problem on the XSL-List which might be
of interest. The archive is at:

And the messages of particular interest are at:

This is my interpretation of the discussion, I must say, and I would
encourage IE5 users to read at least the Microsoft person's
contribution - the first of the four messages listed above.

In short, IE5 is _not_ performing client-side validation, though it
does perform some syntactical checking of the DTD. It was suggested
that this was a bug, but the Microsoft chap responded that it is
performing as designed.

His argument is that firstly presenting validation errors to the end
user is not useful, and would serve only to prevent the user viewing
a document which was otherwise well-formed, and that
secondly validation is an unnecessary performance overhead.
Essentially, a document being "published" to the wider world should
have been already validated by the publisher (if validation is

Validation _is_ useful for the developer, and can be switched on
using Javascript to set certain properties which IE5 checks to decide
how to process the DTD.

I quite agree with the argument about what the user sees and the
performance angle (though I haven't seen a response to the question
of why check the syntax of the DTD if you're not going to validate
the document!).

Until this came up, I had understood that it was the presence
of the DOCTYPE statement which effectively provided that switch. DOCTYPE statement = process as well-formed without validation
against DTD; DOCTYPE statement present = validate against DTD.

and I had been working on the premise that it was quite reasonable
to present to the end user a document without DOCTYPE (i.e.
as well-formed): that didn't mean it had never been previously
validated against a DTD during development. But I can see the
argument that you want to maintain the association of document with
DTD but retain the actual performing of validation as an optional

It's just something to be aware of, I guess, especially if, as may
increasingly become the case, people are using IE5 as their parser of
preference! Don't assume it is validating your document: yes, it
performs well-formedness checks and even some syntactical checking of
the DTD, but IE5 does not validate unless those flags are set to tell
it to do so. There is a script available from Microsoft to set the
flags and perform validation but I haven't tried it out yet.


Pete Johnston (Effective Records Management Project)
Archives & Business Records Centre
University of Glasgow
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