Re: Generic LIST Element

Daniel W. Connolly (
Thu, 03 Aug 1995 18:03:22 -0400

Message-Id: <>
To: (Michael J Hannah)
Subject: Re: Generic LIST Element 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 03 Aug 1995 13:37:34 +0700."
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 1995 18:03:22 -0400
From: "Daniel W. Connolly" <>

In message <>, Michael J Hannah writes:
>Personally, I believe that you get CONSIDERABLY more expressive power
>than you currently have.  For me as a document composer, the ability to
>have control over the list ITEM heading is worth the bother.  Plus,
>having a general purpose autonumbering scheme is, for me, WELL worth
>the bother.  Others have mentioned the expanding outline capability.
>That is not of interest to me, but is an expressive power that we do
>not already have at the control of the document composer, and which
>this proposal provides.  For them (see message from
> sent on Thu Aug  3 06:28:10 1995) it is worth
>the bother.  And further, the bother (or hassle) is not (IMHO) that
>great, nor is the idiom that different.

OK, now that I look at it more closely, I see that there is some
novelty in the proposal. But why throw out the existing markup? Why
not just add to it?

|I believe that modifying the list concept to a single generic element
|will eliminate the current and future need for differently named HTML
|elements to identify different ways to present lists

The distinction between <ol>, <ul>, and <dl> is not just presentation,
if you ask me. They are distinct communications idioms.

So allow me to suggest alternatives to your examples in

|Definition List

leave it as is. Clearly, this example shows no novelty.

|Menu List

MENU/DIR arguably never belonged in HTML. The cited html3-ism:


looks happy to me. After this example, you write:

|     No PLAIN attribute is required, simply the absence of any LIH
|     elements. This is the simplest type of list, and is the simplest
|     markup.

This is just bad language design, if you ask me. Clearly, bulleted
lists are the most common _usage_, hence it should have the simplest
markup. I think you're guilty of thinking too much like a programmer
-- especially in this case -- but throughout this proposal.

|Ordered List
|Current Ordered List Mechanism 
|     <OL>
|     <LI>Get in boat.
|     <LI>Untie from dock.
|     <LI>Put up sail.
|     </OL> 
|Proposed Ordered List Mechanism 
|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><NUM SEQNUM=1>. </LIH>Get in boat.
|     <LI><LIH><NUM>. </LIH>Untie from dock.
|     <LI><LIH><NUM>. </LIH>Put up sail.
|     </LIST> 

Ack! Clearly a loss.

|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH>Step <NUM SEQNUM=1>. </LIH>Get in boat.
|     <LI><LIH>Step <NUM>. </LIH>Untie from dock.
|     <LI><LIH>Step <NUM>. </LIH>Put up sail.
|     </LIST> 

so now we get to something that's not expressible in HTML 2.0.

The <NUM> element might make an interesting proposal by itself,
without all the other noise. So we might write:

     <ul plain>
     <LI>Step <NUM SEQNUM=1>. Get in boat.
     <LI>Step <NUM>. Untie from dock.
     <LI>Step <NUM>. Put up sail.

but then you lose some of the alignment. So we might write:

     <dl compact>
     <dt>Step <NUM SEQNUM=1>.<dd> Get in boat.
     <dt>Step <NUM>. <dd>Untie from dock.
     <dt>Step <NUM>. <dd>Put up sail.

The tricky part about NUM is when the <num> element occurs much before
the element it refers to. It introduces two-pass formatting (if you've
got a way around that, you should definitely put it in the proposal).

|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Fruit
|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Bananas
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Pears
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Apples
|     </LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Nuts
|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Pecans
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Walnuts
|     <LI><LIH><LD></LIH>Cashews
|     </LIST>
|     </LIST> 

Ack! Please no! :-)

|     <LIST>
|     <LI><LIH><IMG HREF="banana.gif"></LIH>Bananas
|     <LI><LIH><IMG HREF="pear.gif"></LIH>Pears
|     <LI><LIH><IMG HREF="apple.gif"></LIH>Apples
|     </LIST> 

This one needs addressing. But isn't the obvious markup already in the
HTML 3 draft?

     <LI src="banana.gif">Bananas
     <LI src="pear.gif">Pears
     <LI src="apple.gif">Apples

| Successively Revealed Outlines List

Aside from tricks with <num>, this reduces to some mechanism for
hiding portions of a document. Easily expressible in stylesheets
in combination with the class attribute. The HIDE attribute is
an alternative I could live with.