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Re: part of my review of 3.12 Phrase elements (importance <strong> element)

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 01:52:15 -0500
Message-Id: <EC71E1DF-AE60-4251-A2AD-76C2D8F98D16@robburns.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
To: Thomas Broyer <t.broyer@gmail.com>


On Jul 20, 2007, at 1:24 AM, Thomas Broyer wrote:

> 2007/7/20, Robert Burns:
>>
>> I think the example in the draft is a good example of a use of
>> "important" that does not really correspond to "emphasis" (strong or
>> otherwise).
>>
>> <p><strong>Warning.</strong> This dungeon is dangerous.
>> <strong>Avoid the ducks.</strong> Take any gold you find.
>> <strong><strong>Do not take any of the diamonds</strong>,
>> they are explosive and <strong>will destroy anything within
>> ten meters.</strong></strong> You have been warned.</p>
>>
>> Imagine changing those elements to <em> and I don't think they work
>> as emphasis  (and not because it needs to be emphasized more
>> strongly). It is more like an instruction manual that's trying to
>> draw your attention to certain words or phrases so that you may skim
>> it quickly and get the gist of it. I don't think that's how <strong>,
>> as in "strong emphasis" (or <em><em></em></em>) should be used.
>
> What do you think about this example from the HTML 4.01 Rec:
>
>    Please refer to the following reference number in future
>    correspondence: <STRONG>1-234-55</STRONG>
>
>         http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/text.html#edef-STRONG
>
> Given this example, I'm not sure the definition in the current draft
> is that different from the "original" one from HTML4.

That's a great example. Yes, I would agree that fits with the current  
proposed language in the draft. So if we leave <strong> in the  
document conformance criteria, I would simply want to emphasize the  
continuity with HTML4 (and XHTML1). So we could be sure to say that  
<strong> has the same meaning it had in those other recommendations   
Then we could provide new example and perhaps even this HTML4 example.

If we go that way, the only other thing I would want to do would be  
to clarify for authors when to use <strong> An strongly emphasized  
phrase</strong> and when to use <em></em>An strongly emphasized  
phrase</em><em>.

All I'm trying to say is let's do either one of the following three  
things:
1) maintain consistency with HTML4 and XHTML1 for the <strong>  
element and use the XHTML1 namespace
	Note A: consistency can include adding clarifying language so long  
as we do so in a way that makes it clear it's clarifying and not  
modifying language; also our language (definition and examples)  
should be acceptable to the other steward of our namespace: the XHTML  
WG)
	Note B: we need to clarify how <strong> relates to nested <em>'s  
(it's a subtle distinction)
2) choose another namespace and change <strong> to mean whatever we  
want it to mean
3) drop <strong> from our document conformance in favor of <b> and  
nested <em>s <important> or any other element we feel the need to  
add. Many of these other elements may simply share the same bold  
visual presentation. However, the still add more fine-grained hooks  
for presentation and bot-based semantic analysis.

Incidentally, I lean toward #1 of these choices. The current draft  
does not make it clear enough that it retains the same semantics for  
the <strong> element.

>> If there's an apparent need for an <important> element then I
>> support adding one (so long as it doesn't have a name collision
>> with existing elements in whatever namespace we go with).
>
> Yes there is, and people have been using <strong> for that (HTML4 had
> nothing better). Other uses of <strong> are abuses because someone
> once said "<b> and <i> are bad, use <strong> and <em> instead" and
> authors still think first WISYWIG rather than WYMIWYG (What You Mean
> Is What You Get)

I agree. The WYSIWYG (I'm supposed to have it reviewed already, but I  
haven't got there yet) section has a similar issue that you raise.  
Right now the draft says:

"Even WYSIWYG editors, however, should make every effort to use  
appropriate semantic markup and avoid the use of media-specific  
presentational markup."

This is dangerous advice without further qualification. That is if a  
WYSIWYG editor exposes controls to set text as bold, it should not  
under any circumstances be using <strong> instead. (a common mistake  
among WYSIWYG editors)  It is not semantic if the author meant bold  
and the tool inserts "strong".

I think the draft does too much of what you're saying. This doesn't  
relate to strong, but the remaining presentational elements, but I  
think we should simply be clear that <b>, <i>, <small>, <sup> and  
<sub> are presentational elements. Don't try to hide that fact:  
that's simply what they are. It's a counter-productive hyper- 
correction to try to refine/redefine them into semantic elements so  
that we can say we're fully semantic. It just confuses the situation.  
This is a bit off-topic for <strong> though I think <strong> is just  
an odd beast because it doesn't have clear semantics (my guess is  
because it was introduced to give a semantic name to "bold" ). I'm  
less interested in getting rid of any elements than in trying to  
promote the idea that our semantic vocabulary should span many common  
needs.

Take care
Rob
Received on Friday, 20 July 2007 06:52:29 GMT

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