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Re: Proposed Design Principles updated

From: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2007 13:48:13 -0400
Message-Id: <5.1.1.6.2.20070403132438.01ef5a58@mail.muzmo.com>
To: public-html@w3.org

At 08:36 AM 4/3/2007 -0700, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>On Apr 3, 2007, at 5:41 AM, Murray Maloney wrote:
>>>
>>>* Good practice: Separation of content, presentation, interaction
>>>A specification SHOULD allow authors to separate content from both
>>>presentation and interaction concerns.
>>>
>>>(Covered by Mostly Semantic Markup, currently disputed.)
>>
>>This design principle is one that I can live with, whereas "Mostly
>>Semantic Markup" is not one that I can live with.
>>
>>I can support a design principle that calls for separation. This is
>>the same principle that has been at play since the earliest days of 
>>markup -- GML,
>>SGML, XML. This is one of the key design principles that led to the 
>>creation of markup.
>>
>>However, the phrase "Mostly Semantic Markup" is overloaded. After all, <b>
>>has semantics and it facilitates for the separation of content and 
>>presentation.
>>But I suspect that the proponents of "Mostly Semantic Markup"  aren't saying
>>that they want more <b>-like elements in HTML.
>
>I'm not sure I understand this. Isn't <b> traditionally considered
>more presentational than semantic? And doesn't it put presentation in
>the content? Seems like both principles lean against adding more <b>- like 
>elements.
>And it seems to me like we want to avoid <b>-like
>elements. So I'm not sure what the difference is.

Back in the bad old days, documents were coded up in software like Wordstar 
and
many other text processing packages that locked you into their formats. If 
you wanted
to switch, you would have to convert, which didn't always work so well. 
Back then,
presentation coding, not markup, was intermixed with the content. Very bad.

With the advent of markup technologies, we have been able to separate the 
presentation
from the content. That's not to say that <b> is bad. It's just that the 
meaning of <b> is
subject to interpretation. TV Raman and I can both read a text that is 
marked up with <b>
and our presentation engines aren't REQUIRED to present anything in bold at 
all.
That is, the presentation is actually separate from the content. I can 
write style sheets
to ignore <b> and <i>.

But try to remember that markup was initially devised by publishers and 
typesetters
who were trying to make their work easier, less prone to error and more 
cost efficient.
As time goes on, it seems that the people who are developing HTML UAs have 
lost touch
with the people who originally wanted to markup documents.

To understand my position you have to realize that I am a technical writer 
by trade.
I have experience with typesetting, printing, publishing, and software 
development.
I have also been involved a more than a few technical working groups over 
the years.
I have debated all of these issues countless times. It's not that I don't 
see your POV.

Yes, I do appreciate the value of semantic elements. I am not for a moment 
suggesting
that HTML should eschew greater semantics, especially given my recent 
experience
working with Dan Connolly on GRDDL. Please note well that I was a member if 
the
Davenport Group who created DocBook. I have a lot of experience creating 
semantic
document types. I fully appreciate the value of semantic elements.

What I am saying is that the pendulum seems to have swung too far the other 
way.
There is nothing wrong with having elements which convey the author/publisher's
intent to achieve a certain appearance. In fact, I think that we should 
complete the
set once and for all so that people who prefer to use HTML as a delivery format
will be in a better position to stop abusing semantic elements. Perhaps in 
time,
they too will learn the advantages inherent in employing semantic markup.

As I see it, the XHTML2 effort went overboard.

Recent suggestions that an image can stand in for a paragraph is an example of
not separating presentation from content. That is the kind of thing I would 
like
to see us avoid.

I am hoping that you are closer to seeing my point of view.

Regards,

Murray
Received on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 18:02:09 UTC

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