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

Re: Cleaning House

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 14:55:52 +0300
Message-Id: <FA8AB490-3806-4A54-A630-8389EA8021CF@iki.fi>
Cc: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>, www-html@w3.org, public-html@w3.org
To: Patrick H.Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>

On May 3, 2007, at 11:25, Patrick H. Lauke wrote:

> Quoting Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>:
>
>> 1) Should documents containing <b> and <i> be conforming HTML5  
>> documents?

> 1) no - instead, define better elements that cover those situations  
> in which the elements in question are used as a last presentational  
> resort, for lack of a more semantic equivalent; and if they ARE  
> used purely for presentational reasons ("i just like how that word  
> looks in italic"), suggest generic approaches such as an  
> appropriately styled <span>.

If you say <i> and <b> are non-conforming, the net effect will be  
that people will use <em> and <strong> in the exact same way. All you  
will have accomplished is replacing two short identifiers with two  
longer identifiers. The semantic reasoning consumers will be able to  
do won't be improved, because consumers need to care about how  
elements are used instead of what their de jure semantics are.

Actually, we don't even need the future tense. Just the propaganda  
saying that <i> and <b> are bad today has led to a situation where  
authoring tools (e.g. Dreamweaver, Opera and for practical purposes  
Tidy) use <em> and <strong> as aliases for <i> and <b> (like visual  
browsers have always done).

As for <span>, styling a <span> is totally presentational. It even a  
tad less semantic than <i>. It is also harder and more verbose.  
Insisting on styled <span>s instead of <i> and <b> serves absolutely  
no practical purpose except for authoring tools that operate entirely  
on computed style and serialize it as <div>s and <span>s.

It would be really nice if the advocates of semantic markup based  
their advocacy on realistic use cases instead of an axiomatic belief  
that more semantics are good and all presentational features are bad.

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Thursday, 3 May 2007 11:56:11 UTC

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