Re: Structured text v. page descriptions (was Netscape, HTML, and , Designers)

Dylan Northrup (northrup@chuma.cas.usf.edu)
Sat, 22 Oct 1994 14:11:51 -0400 (EDT)


Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 14:11:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Dylan Northrup <northrup@chuma.cas.usf.edu>
To: Nick Arnett <narnett@verity.com>
Cc: Multiple recipients of list <www-html@www0.cern.ch>
Subject: Re: Structured text v. page descriptions (was Netscape, HTML, and , Designers)
In-Reply-To: <aacef53601021004b266@[192.187.143.12]>
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.91.941022133921.3110B-100000@chuma>

On Sat, 22 Oct 1994, Nick Arnett wrote:

> We're starting to see major customers adopting *both*.  Sun, for example,
> is setting SGML and Acrobat as its standard documentation formats.
> 
> I could go on about this for a while, but I'd rather suggest that if the
> designers of HTML abandon principles of structured text, they'll ruin it by
> creating a standard that has the worst of both worlds.
> 
> I'll also point out that we're serving Acrobat documents over the Web
> *now*, so this isn't a pipe dream.  Check out <URL:http://www.verity.com/>.

I did, and while I do see the advantages of having semantic markup as 
opposed to structured markup, I see you doing the same thing on this site 
that others around the Web are doing.  You take advantage of a structured 
markup's appearance and ignore it's logical function.

Example:
<DL><DD><H2><img src = "/images/f-demo-blu-32d.gif" alt="" align=bottom>
<a href="demos.html"> TOPIC Information Agent Demos</a></H2></DD></DL>

This is not a "list", this is one item.  It is used because it 
conveniently inserts a tab making the presentation more attractive.

I'll be the first to saay that I've done it as well.  I don't think there 
aare more than a handfull of pages out there that use semantic markups 
for the purposes of logical descriptions (If you've ever put in an <HR> 
just because it looked nice, this means you).

If you're going to argue for a point, at least give us a URL that doesn't 
shoot your argument in the foot.

> I think designers who want a high level of control should stick with
> Acrobat, Common Ground and their ilk, rather than putting pressure on the
> HTML designers to break its paradigm.  

I like the paradigm but it's not what alot of people want (probably 
because the don't understand the advantages of semantic markup 
(portability across browsers, future ease of use by personal agents and 
their ilk, etc.)).

Another People don't RTFM (I admit I just read this).  Most don't know why 
they 
should be happy that they can't type something on the same line as their 
<h1>Header</h1> in a smaller type.

>From "A Beginner's Guide to HTML" 
(http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/demoweb/html-primer.html)

<cite>
If physical and logical styles produce the same result on the screen, why 
are there both? We devolve, for a couple of paragraphs, into the 
philosophy of SGML, which can be summed in a Zen-like mantra: ``Trust 
your browser.'' 

In the ideal SGML universe, content is divorced from presentation. Thus, 
SGML tags a level-one heading as a level-one heading, but does not 
specify that the level-one heading should be, for instance, 24-point bold 
Times centered on the top of a page. The advantage of this approach (it's 
similar in concept to style sheets in many word processors) is that if you
decide to change level-one headings to be 20-point left-justified  
Helvetica, all you have to do is change the definition of the level-one 
heading in the presentation device (i.e., your World Wide Web browser). 

The other advantage of logical tags is that they help enforce consistency 
in your documents. It's easier to tag something as <H1> than to remember 
that level-one headings are 24-point bold Times or whatever. The same is 
true for character styles. For example, consider the <STRONG> tag. Most 
browsers render it in bold text. However, it is possible that a reader 
would prefer that these sections be displayed in red instead.  Logical 
styles offer this flexibility. 
</cite>


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* Dylan Northrup <northrup@chuma.cas.usf.edu> * PGP and Geek Code available *
***********************************************   via WWW and upon request  *
* Will code HTML for food *  KIBO #7  * <http://www.cas.usf.edu/dylan.html> * 
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----------------------- 
Random Babylon 5 Quote:
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"No one knows what is written in the stream until the water surrounds him."
  -- M'ola, "Believers"