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Re: Simplicity of Authoring and Accessibility Tools

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001 13:04:38 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200101201304.f0KD4cm21547@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> XHTML, including modularization?  Why would you want to teach anyone
> such obsolete technologies anyway?  A true curriculum designed for
> the 21st century would not be using 20th century concepts such as
> "XHTML modules" when you really should start with XML, which is easier
> to understand and use anyway.

[X]HTML is needed because most people already have problems with the 
degree of abstraction needed for HTML, so sensibly creating an abstract
XML version and a style sheet for it will exclude most potential authors,
or, more likely make them use one of many, incompatible, HTML replacements.

Such HTML replacements are likely to have no semantics known to the
reading tools, so, taking things slightly to extremes, will only work
in the mediums (in practice recent GUI browsers) for which style sheets
are provided by the author/authoring tool provider (no one else can
provide them without understanding the technical structure of the
specific document or documents produced by that particular tool).
This single medium characteristic is likely to be even more true in
custom XML documents (except that the higher skill level of the document
creation technician might make them aware of other media, even if they
do not have the commercial authority to cater for it.)

It's, perhaps, worth remembering that XML is a replacement for SGML,
and SGML is a framework for constructing specific application domain
document types, so the semantics free structure concept is by no
means new.  HTML is an SGML document type that was intended for writing
general purpose hyperlinked documents, with the sort of basic document
structuring that any school child should know.  It's very simplicity
is one of its problems.  There are other SGML document types that have
much more of what is needed for technical documents, like DOCBOOK, and
one could conceive of a document type for advertising copy (although
most advertisers probably wouldn't want to reveal the true purpose of
the elements of their copy).  On the other hand, most current authors
would not choose the right construct from a richer language if they
could produce the required visual effect from a subset.

One of the other common uses of SGML is electronic data interchange,
where there is a lot of application structure that is rather weakly
correlated with presentation, but even there you don't have a different
invoice DTD for every company - for the vast majority of users they will
be using a specific document type, not SGML (or XML).
Received on Saturday, 20 January 2001 10:17:51 GMT

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