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Re: Machine checkability (Was: Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.)

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 09:44:25 +0300
Cc: "'Philip Taylor'" <pjt47@cam.ac.uk>, <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <805A4886-5EC2-437A-B392-AB4BCD309D4D@iki.fi>
To: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>

On May 12, 2008, at 08:37 , Justin James wrote:

> Why is it, 15 years after HTML hit the scene, no one interested in  
> making valid HTML that is also good, clean HTML uses a WYSIWYG  
> system? Because the tools stink, and we all know it.

You can blame the tools all you want but the basic problem is that  
purporting to encode semantics is a paradigm mismatch with editing  
presentation. And many tool vendors (correctly, IMO) seem to believe  
that the preference of a sizable part of potential customers is to  
edit presentation--not to edit semantics.

> This is an unacceptable state of affairs. If email worked this way,  
> the computer revolution would have never happened.


text/plain; format=flowed has exactly one semantic construct:  
blockquote. That construct is fundamental to email and automatable by  
mail user agents most of the time. The rest of text/plain;  
format=flowed is presentational, so naturally the format is a better  
match for UIs designed for presentational editing.

(Aside: Email messages as a whole also have supplementary user-entered  
data that is supposed to be mandatory: Subject. And as we all know,  
software cannot force people to write a subject. However, other people  
can make subject writing more compelling if you know that by not  
writing a subject you are more likely to get your message ignored as  
spam.)

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Monday, 12 May 2008 06:45:10 GMT

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