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Re: HTML 5 removed "numeric character reference" term - why?

From: Mike Brown <mike@skew.org>
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 15:10:14 -0600 (MDT)
Message-Id: <200706232110.l5NLAF07090615@chilled.skew.org>
To: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>
CC: David Håsäther <hasather@gmail.com>, Mike Brown <mike@skew.org>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, public-html@w3.org

Anne van Kesteren wrote:
> On Fri, 22 Jun 2007 13:17:33 +0200, David Håsäther <hasather@gmail.com>  
> wrote:
> > On 6/22/07, Mike Brown <mike@skew.org> wrote:
> >> I disagree; they're all references to characters.
> >
> > In HTML5, yes. But yea, as Ian said, there really aren't entities
> > anymore, so I think I agree that "character references" is the best
> > name to refer to them all, and that we better skip entities.
> On the other hand, everyone is using the term entities already. What's so  
> wrong with that in the context of HTML?

I understand this point of view, I mean it's difficult to get people to even 
append "reference" to "entity" and distinguish between those concepts, let 
alone differentiate entities from characters. Another example might be the 
terms URL, URI, and URI reference.

However, "everyone is using the term entities already" also sounds a lot like 
"Everyone is using <font> already. Let's just put it in HTML 3", or perhaps 
"No one reads the specs, so it doesn't matter what goes in this one".

It's true that authors typically only want to know "what do I type to make the 
browser behave this way that I want" and will seek to reduce the vocabulary 
for such constructs, in their heads, to its simplest form; e.g., who cares 
whether "&#160;" is a "reference" to an "entity" or "character"; who cares 
what the syntax represents at some other level of abstraction which may have 
historically guided the development of this language; and who cares what those 
terms mean in those other universes? It's just "that thing that I type to 
insert a space that doesn't wrap" and "entity" is as good and weird a name as 
any; in fact, a lot of people would probably be just as satisfied if it and 
its bretheren went without formal names.

Philosophically, though, is HTML 5's aim to rubber-stamp all current 
practices, including naming conventions that, arguably, are the result of this 
kind of reductionist ignorance and the momentum of tutorials that cater to it?

At any rate, I thank everyone for their patience and indulgence as I quibble 
over minutia. 
Received on Saturday, 23 June 2007 21:10:49 UTC

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