Re: making old text publicly available on the web

Murray Altheim (
Fri, 7 Jul 1995 17:57:07 -0400

Dan Riley ( wrote:
> (Murray Altheim) writes:
>> Thorvaldur Gunnlaugsson ( writes:
>> >There is lots of text around which could be made accessible
>> >on the web but nobody has the time to mark up.
>> >Frequently the only structure this text has is tabs and
>> >formfeeds. HTML should support formfeeds in <PLAINTEXT>
>> >so this little structure there is present in this text
>> >does not get lost on the web.
>> Unfortunately, PLAINTEXT is deprecated in HTML 2.0 and beyond, so you would
>> be forced to put the entire document into a number of PRE elements.
>Maybe I'm missing something here--if the documents aren't HTML, why
>try to serve them as Content-Type: text/html? Plain text, it seems
>to me, ought to be served as Content-Type: text/plain -- that is what
>it is there for, and presumably that is why PLAINTEXT is deprecated.
>RFC 1521 is a little wishy-washy on formfeeds and tabs, at least for
>character set US-ASCII:

[description in RFC...]

You're not missing anything. I was only suggesting translation into HTML as
a method of creating breaks between sections or pages, as Thorvaldur had

>My reading of this is that a web browser ought to handle FF and TAB in
>text/plain in the traditional fashion. I don't know of any browsers
>that will page text/plain on formfeeds, but that is a quality of
>implementation issue that should be taken up with the browser authors,
>not an HTML issue.

As you point out, web browsers ought to handle text/plain with all of its
allowed controls properly. I've just never seen a browser that does. I
agree that formfeeds in text/plain is a browser issue, not one of HTML.
Perhaps you have pointed us to the solution of our discussion: directing
that features of non-HTML specific MIME types be implemented more
thoroughly by browser authors.


Murray M. Altheim, Information Systems Analyst
National Technology Transfer Center, Wheeling, West Virginia