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Re: <q>

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2008 10:36:30 -0500
Cc: "'Ivan Enderlin'" <w3c@hoa-project.net>, "'Sam Kuper'" <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>, "'Olivier GENDRIN'" <olivier.gendrin@gmail.com>, "'Ben Boyle'" <benjamins.boyle@gmail.com>, "'Chris Wilson'" <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <AF3F54B6-168D-4A78-A006-0D8FCC6325FC@robburns.com>
To: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>

Hi Justin,

On Oct 28, 2008, at 9:56 PM, Justin James wrote:

>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html- 
>> request@w3.org] On
>> Behalf Of Ivan Enderlin
>> Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 10:26 AM
>> To: Justin James
>> Cc: 'Sam Kuper'; 'Olivier GENDRIN'; 'Ben Boyle'; 'Chris Wilson';  
>> 'HTML
>> WG'
>> Subject: Re: <q>
>>
>> The problem is with the quote style.
>> Maybe the “best” way to work is that UA do not print quotes (with
>> :after
>> or :before classes, and content property), and only user overwrites
>> this
>> property with his own CSS. Or a secondary solution is that user  
>> writes
>> quotes himself in the content and let the CSS to default (i.e. no
>> quotes
>> are printed).
>
> I would be happy with your "secondary solution".
>
>> This is not a HTML problem but a CSS problem I think (or content
>> problem).
>
> I could not agree more. Simply put, quotation marks are either  
> content or they are presentation; the original <q> proposal seeks to  
> use a semantic element to control presentation in order to  
> compensate with a conundrum with people's content.

I cannot see how you're thinking of the q element here. The q element  
semantically demotes a quotation regardless of how it gets presented.  
That is the proper separation of concerns. The fact that quotations  
are often presented (and distinguished from non-quotations) by  
surrounding them with quotation marks is only one possible  
presentation of a quotation. Another presentation of a quotation is to  
mark is with a horizontal bar and change the color of the text (as my  
email client presents the quotations above). Another way is to set off  
quotations as indented blocks. These are the various ways to present  
quotations, but that doesn't make the quotations or the q element  
presentational.

As for your earlier remarks about using markup to denote other routine  
parts of a paragraph (such as sentences and clauses, etc), certainly  
that constitutes a valuable reductio ad absurdum, but the question to  
me is where do we draw the line. The same reductio ad absurdum could  
be used to argue against the use of paragraphs. After all paragraphs  
are already denoted by the punctuation of a line break (just as  
quotations are delineated by quotation marks). However, it is quite  
useful to have paragraphs delineated in the markup independent of this  
punctuation. The quotations even more so since the separation of  
concerns (semantics and style) for quotations marks is underscored in  
both of the folowing ways:

1) quotations are only sometimes presented as with surrounding  
quotations marks (so the use of marks for semantics undermines the  
separation of concerns)

2) quotations marks do not always imply a quotations (as when  
quotation marks are used to present the title of a work like I read it  
in "Time" magazine)

So the quotation element is an important and I think indispensable  
part of HTML. With the latest release of IE, the necessary CSS is in  
place to support stylesheet based presentation of q element (now in  
all major browsers). However, Chris also proposed a great solution to  
the incompatibility problems we've been plagued with here that also  
provides a way forward for IE and other browsers. By advising UAs to  
intelligently NOT insert quotation marks even when the specifies it it:

1) the q element is already surrounding by quotations marks or  
(ignoring adjacent whitespace)
2) the quotations marks already begin the q element (ignoring adjacent  
whitespace)

I think this solution is brilliant (though should probably be  
something for CSS to incorporate more so than HTML5, perhaps even with  
new before:: after:: contingent properties).

In addition I think we should provide authors the ability to  
explicitly distinguish the semantics of their quotation elements as I  
earlier proposed[1][2][3]. By adding a 'marks' attribute taking the  
values 'provided' or 'needed', authors can indicate that the quotation  
marks should not be added by stylesheets. By treating the default  
value of this attribute as "needed" it provides authors the most  
compact syntax to markup quotations (leaving off the attribute and the  
quotations marks). It also makes HTML5 a compatible superset of  
HTML4.01 with respect to this issue. Supplementing this with Chris's  
suggestion to intelligently omit stylesheet rule quotations marks (if  
redundant) would round out he issue very nicely.

Take care,
Rob

[1]: <http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/AddedAttributeQuotationMarks>
[2]: <http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/issues/48>
[3]: <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0682.html>
Received on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 15:37:32 GMT

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