Goals of HTML (and XML)? (was Re: Foreign Words and Phrases..)

Markku Savela (msa@anise.tte.vtt.fi)
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 10:13:16 +0300 (EET DST)

Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 10:13:16 +0300 (EET DST)
From: Markku Savela <msa@anise.tte.vtt.fi>
Message-Id: <199709250713.KAA30441@anise.tte.vtt.fi>
To: www-html@w3.org
In-reply-to: <199709250611.CAA01129@unix.asb.com> (wlkngowl@unix.asb.com)
Subject: Goals of HTML (and XML)? (was Re: Foreign Words and Phrases..)

This discussion seems to be shooting into directions where HTML is not
intended to go, when it starts to talk about elements with application
specific semantic (such as taxonomic names etc.). Such things are best
left to other tagging systems (for example, XML based) or already
existing SGML applications (TEI etc).

HTML should stick to "logical presentation elements", for example <h1>
is just heading, <p> is paragraph, <ul> is just list. None of these
elements attempt to define what the information content is. And I
think HTML should stick to this: include only elements that relate to
logical presentation, but not to the information content.

In this light, <address> is an example of an element that should not
exist in HTML.

Reading HTML 4.0 drafts, I can see that it mostly follows the above

The introduction of the styles confuses the issue. Why need all the
elements when almost *everything* could be done with just few
elements, for example, <span> and <div>. (There are things that cannot
be expressed with styles (yet): tables, forms, anchors and maybe some

The 'class' attribute also takes HTML dangerously close to application
specific tagging systems. "<span class=taxon> ... </span>" is very
close to "<taxon> ... </taxon>". Perhaps this is the right way to
proceed in some cases: you can have WEB document and logical document
in the same source (without needing to define a new SGML application
and DTD). Then, one might question what we need XML for?

Markku Savela (msa@hemuli.tte.vtt.fi), Technical Research Centre of Finland
Multimedia Systems, P.O.Box 1203,FIN-02044 VTT,http://www.vtt.fi/tte/staff/msa/