Re: No IMG in FIG

Michael Johnson (michaelj@relay.relay.com)
Fri, 04 Aug 95 07:40:47 EDT


Subject: Re: No IMG in FIG
Message-Id: <MICHAELJ.950804074047@relay.relay.com>
From: michaelj@relay.relay.com (Michael Johnson)
To: www-html@w3.org
Date:    Fri, 04 Aug 95 07:40:47 EDT

Ping wrote:
>The rest of my message concerning <FIG> content proposes that the content
>of FIG be treated as HTML to be rendered as a figure when SRC is not
>specified.  This is aimed at increasing orthogonality.
>
>How do you feel about this?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "rendered as a figure". The intent of FIG
content now is that it should be rendered in place of the SRC when the latter
is unavailable. I guess it would not hurt to expand this notion to allow the
SRC to be omitted entirely so that the content is always rendered.

When you say "rendered as a figure" though what exactly do you mean? I have
been thinking about the idea of paying attention to the width attribute when
I render the content of a FIG, falling back on normal processing if WIDTH is
not specified. I would then flow text around the formatted content. Is this
the sort of behavior that you mean?

If so, I guess my opinion is that this question needs to be addressed by the
HTML 3.0 specification, either by disallowing it or by recommending it.

>                                   This is consistent with the other thread
>i initiated, calling for fewer new tags in HTML 3.0 -- it seems there are
>perhaps already too many, and introducing too many more would only sharpen
>learning curves and complicate implementations.
>
>I want to push HTML in the direction of simplicity and orthogonality.

There is such a thing as over-abstracting too. A couple of the HTML 3.0 tags
are questionable (BIG and SMALL, because they are purely presentational) but
the other new style tags (like AUTHOR, ACRONYM and so on) are useful to have
because they allow semantic elements to be indicated in the markup.

Someone who wants to write simple pages doesn't have to use the extra new tags.
But people who want to write documents that can be searched by a sophisticated
search engine need the power of these tags.

Some have proposed using the CLASS attribute of EM to replace those tags. My
opinion is that this is an abuse of the CLASS attribute. I infer from the
IETF draft and comments in the DTD that CLASS exists purely to allow elements
to be subclassed for the purposes of presentation. I do not think that Dave
intended CLASS to be used to dynamically define new semantic markup, nor do I
think it would be a good idea to use it for this.

AUTHOR and ACRONYM are abstract concepts that correspond to useful semantic
document elements. They are not a presentational hack. While using CLASS to
avoid presentational hacks (e.g. <FONT> and FGCOLOR) is great, using CLASS to
change the semantic meaning of a tag is not good.

IMHO.

>> One of the big problems facing the HTML community right now is the damage
that
>> has been done by well-meaning people who tried to treat HTML as a
presentation
>> language (or turn it into one) rather than treat it as what it is, a language
>> for describing the structure and content of a document.
>
>I do mean well, but i want to stay out of this category.  Much as --
>sometimes -- i try to keep others out of this category.

So long as you are aware of the danger and consciously strive to avoid that
trap, I'd say you are still on the good side of the Force.

My intent in making my original comment was to prompt you to think a little
more about your ideas before airing them to the public forum. I expect that
purpose has been fulfilled.

Michael Johnson
Relay Technology, Inc.