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[Bug 9919] Remove kbd, samp, and maybe var, like acronym; expand <code>/<tt>/<i> or whatever to replace them

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 18:13:24 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1OcMkO-00018I-7V@jessica.w3.org>

Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3cbug@gmail.com> changed:

           What    |Removed                     |Added
            Summary|samp and kbd are            |Remove kbd, samp, and maybe
                   |practically unused and just |var, like acronym; expand
                   |clutter the language.  They |<code>/<tt>/<i> or whatever
                   |should be removed, like     |to replace them
                   |acronym, and code should be |
                   |broadened to include their  |
                   |semantics (or maybe tt      |
                   |should be re-permitted and  |
                   |defined in the fashion of b |
                   |and i).                     |

--- Comment #2 from Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3cbug@gmail.com>  2010-07-23 18:13:23 ---
(In reply to comment #1)
> That was a bold statement.  Do you have frequency data you could share?

Sure.  For instance (thanks to Philip, although as he warns, it's five years


shows out of 130,000 or so pages, 43 use <kbd>, and 54 use <samp>.  That's
under 0.05%.  They're used less often than a considerable number of elements
that don't actually exist.  <var> probably falls in the same boat (just use <i>
instead).  Although <ins>, <del>, and some other elements are used as
infrequently, there are no good replacements for those, so I won't include them
in this request.

> Note that KBD means "user input", and user input is a different thing than the
> result of it.  Example: Pressing <KBD >Ctrl <KBD >C</KBD ></KBD > does not
> produce any result (<TT ></TT >).

Yes, but HTML does not need to respect all possible semantic distinctions.  It
could include <noun> and <adjective> tags too, hypothetically, but almost no
one wants to mark up nouns or adjectives specifically.  Such marginal use-cases
are what things like class="" and microdata are for.  Dedicated elements are
only needed for very important or widely-used semantics.

It's safe to say these elements are only in the language at all because they
were in old versions of the language and no reason was seen to remove them. 
(The editor could confirm this.)  This fits in with the general idea not to
make previously conforming pages non-conforming without good reason.  However,

1) It's inconsistent with how <acronym> is treated.  The only difference I'm
aware of in that case is that <acronym> was already removed in XHTML2 --
however, many elements were removed from XHTML2 but retained in HTML5.

2) The number of affected pages would be tiny compared to the number affected
by getting rid of elements like <tt> and <u>.  As long as so many authors are
being forced to adjust their pages because of elements that are removed as
obsolete or useless, we may as well take the opportunity to tidy up the
language a bit more by removing a few extra very rarely used elements.

In short, I think that the addition of these elements to the language has been
proven to be an error; and while it was a fairly harmless error, the fix is
correspondingly harmless, so we may as well take it.

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Received on Friday, 23 July 2010 18:13:25 UTC

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