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

Re: Cleaning House

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 00:14:41 +0100
Message-ID: <463A6CE1.60605@splintered.co.uk>
To: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
CC: public-html@w3.org, www-html@w3.org

Boris Zbarsky wrote:
> Some people are 
> suggesting that it should fall on the pure-semantic end of things 
> (without really explaining how this is supposed to work given a very 
> limited vocabulary and the desire to express a wide variety of complex 
> concepts).

By expanding the limited vocabulary. It worked for new additions like 
<audio>, <video>, <eventsource>, <datagrid> etc because it makes making 
Web Applications easier, so why can't there be slightly more granular 
markup for other elements which are a bit more of a catch-all at this stage?

> Note that internationalization, accessibility and useability are not 
> necessarily incompatible with presentational markup, within reason.

 From an accessibility point of view, presentational markup can be 
treated in roughly two ways:

- ignore it, as it's just presentational and doesn't actually convey 
meaning/content; obviously, this presupposes that its use was indeed 
purely whimsical, rather than down to the author's lack of knowledge of 
why/when to choose structural/semantic markup (marking up a paragraph as 
big and bold - via <font> and <b> - instead of using h1-h6 elements), or 
the spec's lack of more suitable alternatives

- divine meaning out of it, based on known cases of misuse or some other 
heuristics (for instance, a screen reader could potentially make a best 
guess and assume that if it comes across a lone paragraph with its 
content wrapped in <font> and <b> that it's possibly a heading in 
disguise); this can be error prone, and shifts the onus completely on 
the user agent / assistive technology.

> Your point was that <sup> and <sub> are somehow more semantic than <i> 
> and <b>.  I don't agree with that point.

Me neither.

> Further, <strong> is about that non-semantic as well (what 
> does it _mean_ exactly?).  Same for <em>.

I dislike the practically non-existent distinction between <em> and 
<strong>...always makes for puzzled faces when I explain structural 
markup fundamentals to our content authors. I'd therefore welcome a 
disambiguation, which probably would mean a single element to cover both 
cases.

> A real semantic emphasis tag, imo, would indicate not only that there is 
> emphasis, but _why_, because depending on the situation different 
> reasons for emphasis should be treated differently.  Of course you'd 
> need different markup for each reason for emphasis.

I still believe that being able to abstractly say "this is more 
important than the surrounding context" is a step forward from "this 
should be visually presented in bold". I agree that it gets unwieldy 
very quickly if we want to define distinct elements for every different 
shade of why something is important.

P
-- 
Patrick H. Lauke
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Received on Thursday, 3 May 2007 23:14:48 UTC

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