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Right Tools RE: Promotion of XHTML

From: Karl Dubost <karl@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 13:52:47 +0100
Message-Id: <a05200f23ba37392e3675@[10.0.1.11]>
To: W3C Evangelist <public-evangelist@w3.org>

At 23:20 -0700 2002-12-30, Alex Rousskov wrote:
>Or is it possible to build tools that generate markup that works OK
>for non-IE users based on a naive non-markup [FrontPage] user input?


* Specification case

I think that at least it's possible to improve what we have right 
now. It's not really the HTML mistake.

Responsibility belongs to the specification when it's hard to 
implement or ambiguous. When you don't have enough test cases, when 
the clarity of the spec is not obvious, etc.
	(Clarity of the spec is useful for teachers who teach to 
future engineers, etc.)

But let's talk about tools.

* Visual layout and structure.

Users (Content editors) want something to use. When you read a 
magazine, a book, etc. You guess the structure from the visual layout 
of the document. When you write a letter, a class, a report in a 
meeting or a mail, you do a kind of visual presentation to explain 
the structure, exactly as I did in this email (and there's no precise 
guide to visually present email :) )

So people are used to guess the structure of a document from the 
visual presentation and not from the structure itself. It's even 
sublter than that because they do not really analyze there's a 
structure, but their brain recognize that this is the title of the 
book, because it's the big think with large letters in the middle of 
the book at the first page. But they do not verbally say "Hey, that's 
the title". It's more on the Pavlov side.

* Editing tools for Structure

To create an editing tool, we have to try to mock-up in part the way 
the human will act or think and to try to produce the right content 
behind. Let's take a short look at what already exists in this kind 
of structural editing tools that COULD work but doesn't really now.

- Word (mode Plan)
	There's a way to structure your document in a very structured 
way in Word. Unfortunately, most of the people do not use it at all, 
or use it correctly. If you use it correctly, you can apply styles to 
your documents and have automatic generation of Table of Contents, 
list of tables and images, etc.
It's not as powerful as LaTeX, but it's very close.
- QuarkXPress
	That's quite the same you have in this tool a lot of 
possibility to apply a structure to a document and apply particular 
style rules to the whole document. Most of the newspapers, magazines, 
annual reports, etc. are (were) done with this tool. Unfortunately, 
there are only a few people who uses it correctly.
- Outliners
	these tools are very structured by their nature and you could 
think that there's a solution here. And there's one, except that the 
user interface is missing. An interface that will help the edition.

All these tools miss something, human nature? or bad user interface metaphor?

* Content first!

People do not really care about the structure of the mark-up except 
if they really have a benefit for using it. You will only modify the 
habits of people, only they can improve what they write, make it 
faster or fun. They have to enjoy the cost of doing the right way.

I think HTML 4.01 is a language which is strongly semantics already, 
but that we have difficulty to understand the semantics, because 
there's more than one way to do it. What's missing to the HTML 4.01 
specification is a DETAILED semantic guide for using the tags. I hope 
we will have that for XHTML 2.0 and I encourage people on this list 
to review the specs and propose strong request for that. Imagine 
XHTML 2.0 on the user side but with a Semantics magnifier.

So don't write Code, but write content.

* Editing Tools

How to achieve this semantic mark-up without annoying the users? It 
will be a kind of Christmas wish list.

1. I DO NOT want an editor which says "add a strong", "add a 
blockquote", etc...
2. I DO NOT want an editor which says "make it bold", "indent your 
text on the right"
3. I want an editor where I can write plain text.
4. I want a logical editor

When I want to add a title to my document like it doesn't have a 
possibility of styling the document for example with an element 
"strong" or with a font face thingy.
	I want "add a title" and when I do that, it put a h1 element 
at the top of the page, but I don't even know that's an h1. If I want 
I can precise the style of the h1, and it will create a css with the 
style chosen and that will define the style for h1 { ... }
	In the menu, I can have "add a section", "add a citation", etc...

For example, When I add a citation, I will have a pop-up window in my 
browser and will have the possibility to give the text and URIs and 
depending on the context it will add a q or a blockquote, with the 
cite at the right place. The problems with the HTML 4.01 
Specification is the precise use of the markup is not enough explain 
to make the implementer's life easy.

For example, we can say I want to insert a piece of code in my 
webpage. What the developper must implement?

<pre>
while (1) :
         print "Hello World";
</pre>

or

<pre><code>
while (1) :
         print "Hello World";
</code></pre>


or .... etc.

* Any hopes?

We have to improve the specifications for sure, we have to improve 
the software, we will not be able to change the human nature (except 
if HTML is teached in the right way in schools).

I'm still waiting for the Semantics HTML book too. I have discussed 
already about that with Molly Hoszchlag. There are no books which 
gives the semantic view of a spec and explain how to use the semantic 
of the language. More of the books, repeat what the specs say will 
more context, and more examples.

A Semantics book is still to write... ahhh... If I had more time.


-- 
Karl Dubost / W3C - Conformance Manager
           http://www.w3.org/QA/

      --- Be Strict To Be Cool! ---
Received on Tuesday, 31 December 2002 08:07:42 GMT

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