HTML Concepts: Unstyled Documents

Post from November 22, 2022, filed under (feed).

Welcome back!

What is an unstyled document? (What is your expectation?) When I thought about this question, my immediate response was “a document without styling information, but styled according to user agent styles.”

For us used to working with CSS, that probably is “unstyled.” But the HTML specification has a special section about unstyled documents. Under Unstyled XML documents it describes what, precisely, a “fully” unstyled document is.

An unstyled document is a document that:

How does this look like?

Such a document would not be rendered according to CSS—and could therefore “just result in a wall of text.”

However, it could be displayed in other forms, and the HTML specification puts developers first here: Such an unstyled document—which should be something that the browser represents using a DOM—could be “rendered in a manner that is useful for a developer,” as with syntax highlighting or a visualization of the respective document tree.

Screenshot of an XML feed.

Figure: An otherwise unstyled feed with some voluntary styling.

But… is this an HTML document, and therefore concept?

No, it’s not—but I thought it may be of interest to look at fully unstyled documents đŸ˜Ź (Next time it’s fully about HTML again.)

Many thanks to Simon Pieters for reviewing and sharing feedback on this post!

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!