Re: Hyphenation (was Re: A suggested tag)

Paul Prescod (
Sat, 19 Apr 1997 16:48:04 -0400

Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 1997 16:48:04 -0400
From: Paul Prescod <>
To: "F. E. Potts" <>
Subject: Re: Hyphenation (was Re: A suggested tag)

F. E. Potts wrote:
> We get into issues of style vs. structure a lot on this list, and
> mostly the arguments are fairly silly.  Certainly we try to keep
> structure separated as much as possible from presentation issues, but
> there are fuzzy areas to take into consideration.
> We really do get too anal on this list over the issue of structure vs.
> presentation, and should focus instead on (1) keeping HTML simple for
> the masses, (2) adding a simple style sheet (CSS), and (3) be working
> towards the future (which seems at this point to be XML and DSSSL-o).

As the anal person who responded to Carl, I should point out that I did
not state that HTML should never have any presentational markup in it.
Actually I think that the occasional word break marker is a lot easier
then trying to tag the semantic meaning of words with different
hyphenation points in different contexts. But recognizing that the line
must occasionally be crossed is different from arguing that there is no
line: even a fuzzy one, as Carl wants to do. Yes the line is
occasionally fuzzy. Yes the line is worth crossing for convenience
sometimes. But yes, there is a line. The distinction between structure
and presentation is not something invented on this list to complicate
discussions and confuse users. I don't think it was your intention to
support that view.

As far as your example, it doesn't seem particularly convenient to me to
change your document by adding in these "..." elements when you could do
it in one place in your style sheet. If your style sheet language is
weak then this is the best choice, but with DSSSL it would be trivial. 

(if (not (string=? (first-child-gi) "TITLE")) (make rule orientation:
'horizontal ) ... )

(I'm always hesitant to post DSSSL code, because the fact that it can be
used to do things that take a couple of minutes thinking serve as
"evidence" that it is hard to use. On the other hand, simple examples
may serve to convince people that even the advanced features of DSSSL
are not that hard.)

The nice thing about the purist approach is that it usually saves work
in the end. With DSSSL, it is two minutes of typing rather than 20 of
hunting around for instances of sections with no titles. I'd guess you
weren't using DSSSL though.

I'm also not sure why you would manually type &bull; &bull; &bull;
rather than generating the bullets. What if you want an ordinary
horizontal rule tomorrow? Is &bull; a statement of opinion about your
editor or the weak stylesheet language that you were stuck with? =)

To summarize, I have no problem with the occasional presentation markup
thrown in where the generated version would be a real pain: for instance
those rare ambiguous hyphenations, but the distinction between structure
and presentation exists and doing things the structural way will usually
save time and money. The other benefits are often gravy.

 Paul Prescod