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

Re: "Pave The Cowpaths" Design Principle

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 11:53:58 -0700
Message-Id: <195CC17D-2A2A-481B-8D86-7519015342B6@apple.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, www-html@w3.org
To: Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org>


On May 15, 2007, at 4:13 AM, Gervase Markham wrote:

>
> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> The intent of the principle was neither of these, at least by my  
>> understanding. It was more like:
>
> <snip>
>
> Well, that's three possible understandings. Perhaps it's worth the  
> "Pave the Cowpaths" advocates making sure they are all on the same  
> page, presenting the result to the group, and then the anti-Cows  
> can see if they actually disagree with the principle as  
> formulated. :-)
>
>> If you want to solve a problem, and authors already have a common  
>> ad-hoc solution, consider using the de facto solution rather than  
>> making up something new, if it does not create significant  
>> problems to do so.
>
> The word "consider" is a bit weaselly, in that the above turns from  
> a principle into a suggestion. Even without a principle, I'm sure  
> we'd always _consider_ using the de facto solution. But how much  
> weight do we put on the fact that it's the current de facto  
> solution? I think that's the question people are struggling with.

The word "consider" is there because anything stronger, such as  
"must" or "always", would be inappropriate. There are some  
nonstandard de facto practices that *do* cause actual harm, or that  
are weaker than what can be provided with a standards-based solution.

I think it is impossible to quantify how much weight, but I do think  
there are some people who, at least before joining this group, would  
have said that no weight should be given to any practice that is not  
explicitly required by the last version of HTML.

>> 4) Define some commonly used class names to have their usual  
>> commonly used semantics.
>
> This isn't a Pave the Cowpaths thing, because (as far as I know)  
> software which reads the web using semantic information doesn't  
> currently pay attention to class names. (Or perhaps someone has  
> counter-examples?) So no-one is using this "cowpath".

The principle is about author practices as found in existing content,  
not about what tools currently do with that content. However,  
contrary to your assertion, many microformats-based tools extract  
semantic information from class names in web pages.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Tuesday, 15 May 2007 18:54:17 UTC

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