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Re: [W3C docs] We should teach by example.

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2007 11:20:43 -0500
Message-Id: <809FFD8A-9C71-43C8-9DA2-6F409A52148A@robburns.com>
Cc: gonchuki <gonchuki@gmail.com>, "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
To: Josh Sled <jsled@asynchronous.org>

On Jul 6, 2007, at 8:50 AM, Josh Sled wrote:

> gonchuki <gonchuki@gmail.com> writes:
>> I have been looking through the source code of the "HTML 5  
>> differences
>> from HTML 4" document [1] as part of the Spanish translation task
>> along with Alejandro Fernández and it came to my notice that the
>> source is in pretty bad condition.
> While it looks like it's missing a close </body></html>, it's not  
> obvious
> why you think it's in "bad condition", or isn't "friendly" or "human
> readable".   What's an example?

I can understand why someone might find xml-like syntax more human  
readable. Particularly for complex markup, I often find myself  
looking for a close tag to know when an element ended. I know that if  
I were born an HTML parser, I would know that certain elements can  
exhibit their end by the appearance of one from another list of  
opening tags. I imagine that with practice, one gets more capable of  
coming up with the end-of-an-element in that manner. However, for  
novices, or those with a lot of experience reading xml-like HTM, or  
even just those who have trouble thinking like an SGML parser, I  
think leaving out closing tags is a human readability issue.

The fascination some get from the idea that certain end tags can be  
left out, to me seems a bit reminiscent of the fascination some  
pioneering programmer once got when he said "eureka, I can express  
every year throughout eternity with just two digits,... or at least  
the important ones." This later led to some problems.

I think now we're seeing similar problems with the optional omission  
of close tags: not the least of which we're finding our HTML  
serialization cannot be as expressive as our xml serialization. As  
examples, the discussion over tying to improve the <img> syntax or  
even <image> syntax. Also, as Henri just raised, the desire to  
include foreign namespaces in the HTML serialization is complicated  
by the lack of closing tags. I haven't thought through this, but  
perhaps we could require closing tags in the non-XML serialization to  
support any of the newly added HTML5 features (but for backwards  
compatibility, UAs would still need to process legacy HTML).

It might be worth considering making the non-XML serialization of  
HTML5 a very XML-like serialization of HTML5. Obviously, the UA  
conformance would include requirements for inference of opening and  
closing tags, but our recommendation for authoring could require  
authors to always include closing tags (something like the HTML4.01  
appendix C, but more thoroughly).

I think simply the presence of XML and XHTML has led to greater  
awareness among authors of ill-formedness issues and invalidity. Its  
difficult to communicate proper nesting to authors while  
simultaneously trying to communicate the benefits of certain tags  
being omitted.

Take care,
Received on Friday, 6 July 2007 16:21:09 UTC

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