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DOM - DHTML and content vs structure

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 00:23:56 +1000 (EST)
To: WAI PF group <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
cc: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.981005234556.14480B-100000@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Preface: I am not completely up to speed on DOM, particularly in terms of 
its implementations.  So if I spout some rubbish, would somebody tell me 
to shut up and point me to the reference I should have read first before 
I make a real fool of myself.

It seems to me that DHTML in its various guises is behind plain HTML in 
understanding the seperation of form and content. While there are scripts 
which are efffective in changing the presentaion of a page, and others 
which are used to generate or regenerate the content there seems to be no 
ability to nominate things as one or the other. Part of this is a 
chicken-and-egg problem - without a DOM it is difficult to write a script 
which explicitly has no effect on the Document Object itself, but only 
the presentation of that object, or to write a script which declares that 
its effect is on the content of the document object itself. But this 
seems like a crucial bit of information to have about the behaviour of a 
scripting object.

This information seems hierarchical to me in the sense that 
a script could modify a presentation property of an element, for 
example presentation.font.size or presentation.background.image, or the 
content or status of that element and its 'relatives' in the DOM tree. 
This passes the buck to the author of the script, and the scripting 
language itself. If we can demand that a script declare which properties 
it affects, or automagically determine that information, we need not bug 
a user with a whole lot of objects which create (for example) rollover 
highlights, and can also hope to present those highlights in another 
medium using appropriate styling where available. 

This idea is still half-baked, but I thought I would toss it to the lions 
as a draft. And I still have a nagging feeling that I am just repeating 
something that has already been said somewhere.

Charles McCathieNevile
Received on Monday, 5 October 1998 10:49:34 UTC

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