W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > November 2008

Re: An HTML language specification

From: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:40:51 -0500
Message-ID: <e9dffd640811210740o668cdc5ayacb15e9a89dae83d@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Boris Zbarsky" <bzbarsky@mit.edu>
Cc: public-html@w3.org

On Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 5:01 PM, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu> wrote:
> Mark Baker wrote:
>> It would need to include the definition of the attributes, but most
>> importantly a definition of what "select" means, like HTML 4 provides;
>> "The SELECT element creates a menu".  But sure, something like that.
> Note that the text there was a direct quote from the section about the
> <select> element in the current HTML5 draft.  Also note that I snipped
> exactly the things you're talking about here, to keep length down.  The
> section goes on like so:
>  The select element represents a control for selecting amongst a set
>  of options.
>  The multiple attribute is a boolean attribute. If the attribute is
>  present, then the select element represents a control for selecting
>  zero or more options from the list of options. If the attribute is
>  absent, then the select element represents a control for selecting a
>  single option from the list of options.
> etc.  This seems to me like exactly what you want, no?

What you've included above is reasonable, but there are some other
parts of SELECT's definition (as just one example) which are
DOM-specific.  For example;

"The options  DOM attribute must return an HTMLOptionsCollection
rooted at the select node, whose filter matches the elements in the
list of options."

"The length DOM attribute, on getting and setting, must act like the
length attribute on the HTMLOptionsCollection object returned by the
options attribute. Similarly, the add() and remove() methods must act
like their namesake methods on that same HTMLOptionsCollection

Those have nothing to do with the meaning of the select element and
its attributes, and so IMO don't belong in an HTML language

>>> Or is the objection just to the way the parsing algorithm is specified
>>> and
>>> not to the descriptions of individual elements?
>> It's both, to an extent.  The parser and much of the language is
>> defined in DOM terms.
> Maybe I'm looking at a bad example here, but <select> certainly doesn't seem
> to be defined in DOM terms (apart from its DOM interface, of course).
>  Should I be looking at some other element?  I just picked <select> because
> it's a sufficiently complex and interesting one that there _might_ have been
> DOM involved.  Something like <div> is even more clear-cut.  Here's the full
> section on <div>:
>  4.12.2 The div element
>  Categories
>    Flow content.
>  Contexts in which this element may be used:
>    Where flow content is expected.
>  Content model:
>    Flow content.
>  Element-specific attributes:
>    None.
>  DOM interface:
>    Uses HTMLElement.
>  The div element represents nothing at all. It can be used with the
>  class, lang/xml:lang, and title attributes to mark up semantics
>  common to a group of consecutive elements.
>  Allowing div elements to contain phrasing content makes it easy for
>  authors to abuse div, using it with the class="" attribute to the
>  point of not having any other elements in the markup. This is a
>  disaster from an accessibility point of view, and it would be nice if
>  we could somehow make such pages non-compliant without preventing
>  people from using divs as the extension mechanism that they are, to
>  handle things the spec can't otherwise do (like making new widgets).

Yes, div's definition is fine.

>> I haven't had a detailed enough look at the
>> parser to know if the DOM gets in the way though, or if it can simply
>> be used as an abstract model as the spec says ("Implementations that
>> do not support scripting do not have to actually create a DOM Document
>> object, but the DOM tree in such cases is still used as the model for
>> the rest of the specification.").
> There are at least two HTML5 parser implementations that do not use a DOM:
> html5lib and Henri's validator.

Good to hear.

>> But I'm still wary of using an implemented model as an abstract
>> one, lest nuances of the various implementations result in differing
>> interpretations of the specification.
> The DOM _is_ an abstract (language-agnostic, etc, etc) model, though. It's
> not like we're defining things in terms of a particular DOM implementation
> here, but in terms of fairly abstract DOM concepts like "parent", "first
> child", "list of children", "localName", "namespace", and so forth...

After receiving Philip's comment, and looking at its specification in
more detail last night, I agree that the parser specification is ok.

Received on Friday, 21 November 2008 15:46:57 UTC

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