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Re: HTML5 feedback from prominent designers

From: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Date: Sun, 06 Sep 2009 18:52:08 +0200
Message-ID: <4AA3E8B8.7080509@xn--mlform-iua.no>
To: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>, HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>
CC: "Tab Atkins Jr." <jackalmage@gmail.com>, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Aryeh Gregor On 09-09-04 22.48:

> On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 11:56 PM, Leif Halvard Silli
> <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no> wrote:
>> But 'aside' still seems a tad 'high English' and "chiefly British", if you
>> ask me. There is risk that it will often be misunderstood or not be
>> understood at all - in this Web Wide World. And for those that understand
>> it, if it is perceived as an exclusive/classy word, then that might also
>> impact on how often authors use it as well.
> 
> The AHD gives these definitions for "aside" (as a noun):
> 
> 1. A piece of dialogue intended for the audience and supposedly not
> heard by the other actors on stage.
> 2. A remark made in an undertone so as to be inaudible to others nearby.
> 3. A parenthetical departure; a digression.


This is in in line with my and dictionary.com's perceptions.

 
> The first two definitions aren't directly relevant to written HTML, so
> the third one appears to be the correct one.  That's the definition I
> thought of when I first heard of the element, and my reaction was that
> it was ridiculously narrow.  A parenthetical statement is often an
> "aside"; a sidebar is definitely not, in the usual English meaning of
> the term.  <aside>s are therefore disjoint from asides.

Sidebars on paper page and on a Web page are similar: It is only a 
name of some available space. Accidently, asides on paper perhaps 
sometimes/often appear in the sidebar.

Sidebars in Web pages, is a standard way of styling (or populating 
...) web pages. While an aside, even if it is only "tangently 
related" to text, is still related to the text, in the way that an 
apropos is related to something said. Thus, while a sidebar is not 
related to the article/content, in any necessary way, an aside is 
directly related to that content, or else it would not be an aside.

So if a proposal for <sidebar> has developed into <aside>, then I 
must agree with Lachlan in that the meaning has changed since he 
proposed sidebars.[1] The advantage of a <sidebar> element would 
eventually be that it became more simple for authors to create 
e.g. 3 column web pages. And I thought such simplifications was 
one of the goals of HTML 5. The "none page structure" of Web pages 
  was something I heard sometime somewhere ...

The advantage of having an <aside>, thus, must not be evaluated by 
mixing it into the sidebar issue ...

> (The word definitely isn't particularly British, IMO as a native
> American English speaker.  I don't think it's particularly "classy",
> but my views on that might be skewed.  In any event it's certainly not
> particularly common as a noun, and I wouldn't expect non-native
> speakers to be sure of exactly what it meant.  But that's an aside.
> ;) )


;-) But even if it isn't British, is it street language? 
Nevertheless, Tab has demonstrated that even English speakers get 
all kinds of associations from it ...

The important point, from a non-native POW (as I see it) is that 
a) "aside" comes across as "deep English", b) it is difficult to 
understand correctly - easy to "associate freely" with sidebar.

Compare with HTML 4: It has "div" (even English speakers doesn't 
know that it means "division"), "p", "a". Just to mention 3 
element names that are too short to know what they mean. I think 
it makes perfect sense for an international language like HTML to 
use element names that can be pronounced "natively" in almost any 
language of the world! ;-)

What do we see in HTML 5? Answer: "article', 'section', 'aside' 
etc.  These full length names represent an anglification of the 
element names HTML.

 
> I tried hunting through a thesaurus to find other names, but I
> couldn't find anything promising before I gave up: <extra>, <infix>.
> (Plus some fun ones that are probably too obscure, like <annex> and
> <adjuvant>.  Chrome even flags the latter as a typo!  :P)  We're
> looking for a word that means "not really part of the content".
> <extra> is possibly better than <aside>, but it's still kind of lame.


'Extra' has the sense that it belongs to the text, while still 
being optional/aside. It could also function as "pull quote", I 
guess. It is an "international" word. A problem is if it eats into 
  <strong> or <em> - but that is a rather minor problem, I think. 
(I think sometimes <strong>/<em> is already used in this 
functionality.) So, I would not say that <extra> is so bad.

I also thought of <related>. Material that is 'related' will by 
definition be different from the current material. (Think of such 
messages as "customers who bought this book also looked as these 
books" in Amazon and similar. Or "related" search results in 
Google. I have more trouble seeing <related> used for pull quotes, 
though.)

I have to say, though, that I find <aside> and <figure> more and 
more similar, as Bruce and Ian has already noted.[2] A pull quote 
may be interpreted as just a text illustration related to the 
text/article. So, for the moment, I think we could drop <aside> 
and just use <figure>.

(I note that you quietly jumped over my name proposals.) ;-)

[1] http://www.w3.org/mid/4AA10D4D.40009@lachy.id.au
[2] http://www.w3.org/mid/op.uzqg8chlh8on37@bruce-pc
-- 
leif halvard silli
Received on Sunday, 6 September 2009 16:52:51 UTC

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