W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-evangelist@w3.org > December 2004

Re: Intuitiveness and documentation of XHTML

From: Pid <webmaster@neutralgrey.net>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 14:00:25 +0000
Message-ID: <41C2E679.4010505@neutralgrey.net>
To: "'public-evangelist@w3.org'" <public-evangelist@w3.org>

You know, maybe he's right, this stuff *is* quite hard to read.
In the light of this, I'd like to suggest that we formalise the 
structure of future rants.
(I'm still working on the DTD...)

http://www.neutralgrey.com/rant-markup-language.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<?xml-stylesheet href="rant.css" type="text/css"?>
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD RML 1.0 Strict//EN" 
"http://www.w3.org/TR/rant/DTD/rml1-strict.dtd">
    <!-- Rant Markup Language -->
    <rant xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2004/rant" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
    <head>
    <disclaimer>This is a general comment. Not sure if this is the best 
list for
      posting this, but if you know a better one, please cross post for 
me.</disclaimer>
    <platitude>First of course, I'd like to commend everyone in the W3C 
for their hard
      work, against all corporate odds, over the years. </platitude>
    <intro>Here is my take on the present state of HTML.</intro>
    </head>
    <body>
    <p>A big problem with the W3C documentation is serious lack of 
practical examples.
     <questionable alt="why is this a problem? how are they duplicating 
work if they're adding
        examples?">This has lead to all sorts of other sites trying to 
duplicate the W3C's
      work just to add real world examples and make it read less like a 
legal
      document.</questionable></p>
    <p>The W3C seems to want to avoid examples directly in their 
documentation,
      maybe because it's not abstract or academic enough, but that seems 
like
      an arbitrary decision. </p>
    <p>Examples make the documentation more complex, but maybe they 
could be maintained
      Wiki-style. Computers exist to <shout>do</shout> more and more 
work for the user, not
      <shout>make</shout> more and more work. Computers should be 
applied to the most complex and
      demanding, and even annoying, aspects of making life easier for 
humans.</p>
    <p>In contrast, there is an almost moralistic tone to much of what 
the W3C
      does.</p>
    <p>Besides the good things, though they are so slow to develop, in 
the background
      there is a virtual crusade to make everything in the languages 
more abstract
      without ever showing the advantage of the abstraction. It is often 
just
      abstraction for the sake of abstraction.</p>
    <p>There seems to be a crusade to add abstraction, complexity, and 
arbitrary
      rules to every aspect of the language, and always to subordinate 
the HTML
      coding experience of average users to the coding 
<shout>convenience</shout>
      of whoever implements mundane XHTML parsers. Look at all the 
differences
      in the syntax requirements of XHTML. </p>
    <p>They have added all sorts of <hardly>arbitrary</hardly> closing 
keystrokes and required
    characters here and there, and <hardly>ridiculous</hardly> "/" 
requirements that any intelligent
      <item type="xml"/> parser could automatically recognize or at 
least recognize
    <shout>multiple replacements</shout> for.</p>
    <!-- why not replace all of the tags with arbitrary strings while 
we're at it -->
    <p>But they have chosen a completely rigid, inflexible framework. 
HTML just
      gets <misunderstanding correction="more like XML">less intuitive 
and less "human"
        all the time</misunderstanding>. Basically, for humans, XHTML's
      <shout>user interface sucks!</shout> What happened to the concept of
      <a href="http://dev.perl.org/perl6/" title="PERL6">natural 
language programming</a>
      ? (not necessarily in English) And design flexibility? Isn't HTML 
a textbook
      candidate for built-in, W3C specified <shout>flexibility</shout>? 
I mean we are not talking
      about <shout>guidance systems</shout> here - for that, you use 
certified, 100% rigid ADA code.
      HTML and XHTML is 99% going to be for plain webpages by regular 
users and should be designed
      for <shout>that</shout> use, <shout>not</shout> satellites, and 
not as an object lesson in computer
      language theory for non-programmers who should never have to do 
complex coding. </p>
    <p><fallacy alt="I'd suggest that FrontPage itself is the cause of 
the problem...">Now, due to the failures
      of W3C, those users have to buy FrontPage to even make a _webpage 
for their dog_ that will not get
     dissed by HTML snobs and possibly search engines too</fallacy>. 
It's like a circular, self-justifying form
      of tech-elitism.</p>
    <p>I strongly suggest that the W3C acknowledge that by making a 
simple, standards
      compliant webpage more complex to create for novice users using a 
plain
      text editor, they have <shout>failed</shout> part of their 
responsibility, and a major effort needs to be made to maintain
      support for older simpler HTML standards while actually 
<shout>continuing</shout> a
    development branch to maintain a DTD for a simple, highly intuitive 
type
      of HTML document intended for 99% of the people outside the W3C.</p>
    <p>Thanks again for hearing this out - John McLaren</p>
  </body>
</rant>

-- 



pid@neutralgrey.com

ng m: (+44|0)7976 411939
ng w: www.neutralgrey.com

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Received on Friday, 17 December 2004 14:00:12 UTC

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