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Re: W3C Official Glossary

From: Ian B. Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 09:21:54 -0500
To: SRJC <jsengstack@santarosa.edu>
Cc: site-comments@w3.org
Message-Id: <1205245314.6856.7.camel@localhost>

On Tue, 2008-03-11 at 09:13 -0500, SRJC wrote:
> I teach HTML at Santa Rosa Community College in Santa Rosa, CA. In the 
> class textbook and in other sources I find that some HTML terms are used 
> interchangeably. A tag is an element. A rule is a style. A class is a 
> selector.

> So I went to the W3.org site as a means to find specificity. Instead I 
> found you have a glossary that includes several dozen reference works. 
> Among them I find disagreement.
> What I would like to know then: Is there an official W3C glossary? If 
> so, what is its URL? If there is no official W3C glossary, can you 
> recommend a single reference?

Hello Jeff,

Good question. We do have a glossary, but it reflects the reality that
there is not always perfect coordination in the use of terms and that
term meanings tend to evolve over time. So we have a glossary collection
that shows definitions of the same term in various specs:

That's linked from the W3C home page. 

Take the word "tag" for instance. In formal terms, there is a
distinction between "tag" (there are two kinds: start tags such
as <body> and end tags such as </body>) and element (which includes
the element name, the attributes, and a bunch of other things that
define the element. In informal terms, people refer to the "p" element
as "the p tag." It is likely that this informal usage creeps into
specifications at times.

Between specifications produced by different groups, it can be difficult
to harmonize term use. On the other hand, within a given specification,
if multiple terms are used for the same concept, or if terms are used
inconsistently, that may signal a weak spec or an area where there was
not consensus.

I suggest using the primary specification that defines a given term
to find the "best" definition for the term. I hope that helps,

 _ Ian

> Thank you,
> Jeff Sengstack
Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs/
Tel:                     +1 718 260-9447
Received on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 14:22:05 UTC

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