Te <OBJECT> draft; was, FIG and OBJECT

Warren Steel (mudws@mail.olemiss.edu)
Mon, 13 May 1996 16:46:04 -0500


Message-Id: <3197AD9C.764C@mail.olemiss.edu>
Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 16:46:04 -0500
From: Warren Steel <mudws@mail.olemiss.edu>
To: Toby Speight <tms@ansa.co.uk>
Cc: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Te <OBJECT> draft; was, FIG and OBJECT 

Toby Speight wrote:
> Did the original FIG provide captions, grouping, and floating
> placement (none of which WD-object supports, AFAIR)?  Do we still need
> something to provide these?

  Good questions, both.  You can read all about <FIG> 
at http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/MarkUp/html3/figures.html 
It's pretty well supported in UdiWWW.  It's true 
that <FIG> is a stand-alone block element, with its
own <CAPTION> and <CREDIT> sub-elements, but it also
allows text flow like an inline image.  It also has
multiple overlays and client-side image maps.  For
reasons better left unsaid, it was never implemented
in any version of NCSA Mosaic or Netscape.  Still, 
it is one of the coolest ideas in the 3.0 draft: 
it impressed everyone who saw it, and fulfilled a 
specific need in traditional authorship--the need 
to insert figures and captions in running text.   
To my knowledge, nothing since has fulfilled that
role so simply and elegantly, and nothing else
degrades so gracefully on non-graphic or non-
supporting browsers.

   The <OBJECT> draft 
http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/WD-object
is a valiant attempt to recover some of the function
and flexibility of <FIG>, as well as create a hook 
for embedded multimedia objects.  It remains to be seen
whether it can fulfil both functions.  The new element
appears to allow fully marked-up alternative text; it
includes SHAPE client-side image-maps, perhaps *better*
than FIG or MAP (though it includes the latter for
backward compatibility).  It omits OVERLAY, which is
probably no great loss for HTML.  It applies enormous
ingenuity to the problem of substituting alternative
objects for unsupported datatypes (animations -> images ->
text).  

   But HTML still needs a block element with Captions and 
Credits for a broad spectrum of writing, from scientific 
reports to creative fiction!  If this is truly possible in
the new draft, I'd like to see it explained.  Otherwise, I'd
like to see the CAPTION and CREDIT restored to the <OBJECT>
draft, for text that will appear *with* the embedded image
or animation, not instead of it.

-- 
  Warren Steel                     mudws@mail.olemiss.edu
  Department of Music           University of Mississippi
          URL: http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~mudws/