W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2007

Re: Proposing <indent> vs. <blockquote>

From: Mike Schinkel <w3c-lists@mikeschinkel.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 00:15:20 -0400
Message-ID: <46205558.6010604@mikeschinkel.com>
To: public-html@w3.org

Benjamin Chait wrote:
>> the number of people coding HTML that don't know CSS will soon far 
>> eclipse those who do, if it hasn't already.
Thanks for the email.  But your replied off-list and it didn't seem 
private so I am replying back to the list.
> This has always been true ~ to code CSS, you have to know HTML. But 
> the reverse is not necessarily true, and certainly in practice, it is not.
Agreed.
> But there's a difference between elitism and basics: in order to 
> publish to the web, you have to learn HTML.
Totally agreed.
> That's a basic skill, or you find a program (desktop publishing app, 
> Blogger, even Microsoft Word) to code for you.
But I strongly disagree "that tools make simplicity of markup language 
design obsolete."  I strongly believe that that which is able to be 
hand-coded by a large number of people will be much more widely adopted 
than that which requires tools. The reason is because the right tools 
are not available in anywhere near all the applicable editing contexts 
where markup can be used.  And based on his writings, I think the highly 
respected visionary Jon Udell sings the same song I'm singing.
> The same rule applies to CSS and blockquote versus indent: we're 
> talking about how to publish to the web, and either people will know 
> the code for publishing to the web (HTML, with CSS for style/design if 
> they so desire) or they won't.
You are saying will either know all, or know nothing. Why do you think 
that learning is black and white? 
> I agree that indent might make more sense, but it seems foolish to 
> attempt to adopt a new standard when an older one currently exists on 
> many pages currently on the web.
This argument can be used against almost any proposed improvement (see 
my signature tag line. :-)  It's not foolish to replace a very common 
and often misused use-case with a less complex solution that would 
encourage proper use.
> I'm sure we could both find plenty of elements that don't make "sense" 
> or might make better sense worded a different way ~ i.e. /a 
> href/ makes little sense to people unfamiliar with the web (compared 
> to something like /link/), or the discussions about /abbr/ and /q/.
Your analogy doesn't hold.  Changing the name of @href to @link doesn't 
reduce its complexity level, it only renames an existing component in 
hopes that the new name makes more sense then the old one.  Doing that 
would add little value and create confusion.  Reducing complexity for a 
common use-case by eliminating the need for inline CSS  is different 
than just changing a name to simply be easier to understand; HTML would 
still need to be learned, no learning requirement would be eliminated, 
and hence there would be no reduction in complexity.
> It's a great thought to simplify the web, but would this "fix" solve 
> more than the confusion it might create?
I can't really see how it would cause confusion except for those who 
would make an proactive effort to be confused.
> My answer would be no, unless a long-term plan of HTML eventually 
> phased-out "blockquote," etc.
If my proposal were adopted, <blockquote> would still make complete 
sense as it provides semantics <indent> would not carry.  And one of the 
core principles for HTML5 is that we don't phase out anything.

As a matter of fact, I'd really like to see more tags added that would 
be address common use-cases with default presentation but that would 
carry no associated semantics. For example:

1.) Tags or attributes that that would cause form fields to left again 
against left aligned labels w/o requiring the use of tables.
2.) Tags for displaying source code (fixed font, no BR required, 
indented, etc.)
3.) Tags for referencing and displaying footnotes

HTML was designed to make markup easy. Moving away from easy just to be 
more technically elegant disempowers a huge segment of the population 
from using markup and ensures another huge segment of the population 
uses it improperly.  There should be a balance, and the Utility section 
of the Principles speaks to this.

-- 
-Mike Schinkel
http://www.mikeschinkel.com/blogs/
http://www.welldesignedurls.org
http://atlanta-web.org - http://t.oolicio.us
"It never ceases to amaze how many people will proactively debate away 
attempts to improve the web..."
Received on Saturday, 14 April 2007 04:15:42 UTC

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