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Re: List elements (was: Tree Presented Lists )

From: William F. Hammond <hammond@csc.albany.edu>
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 14:24:52 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <200107221824.f6MIOqD14727@pluto.math.albany.edu>
To: www-html@w3.org
On Fri, 20 Jul 2001 10:40:22 -0700
Tantek Celik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:

> Daniel Hiester, at 22:19 on Thu, 19 Jul 2001, wrote:
> >     Why is it that we don't simply have an element that means 'list.'
> >     Why was it so important to have the markup parser distinguish the
> >     difference between an ordered and unordered list?
> Semantically they are different as others have pointed out, but I wonder,
> instead of <ol>, <ul>, <dl> tags, why wasn't there simply one <list> tag
> with a type attribute, e.g.
>  <ol> = <list type='ordered'>
>  <ul> = <list type='unordered'>
>  <dl> = <list type='definition'>
>  <dir> = <list type='directory'>
>  <menu> = <list type='menu'>

Using a "type" attribute to distinguish between different kinds of lists
is more sophisticated than giving each different type of list a name.
For example, "type" is used this way in the well-known TEI document type,
http://www.tei-c.org/ .

> Perhaps <ol>, <ul>, <dl> were preferred due to brevity? ("unix shell
> command" philosophy? but then <blockquote> could have been <bq> etc.)
> Maybe someone with more "history" could refer us to the relevant archived
> discussion.

My sense of this is that early HTML may have been influenced in this
regard by Leslie Lamport's LaTeX, a structured typesetting language
with no enforced separation between content and style,
http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?introduction=yes .

Although LaTeX has provision for many specialized list constructions
under a single umbrella, it sports "elementary" instances, which are
the most commonly used lists, called "itemize", "enumerate", and
"description" that correspond, respectively, to "ul", "ol", and "dl".

The common practice in HTML of using a "dl" with only "dd" elements
(without paired "dt" elements), as presented by default in many
extant user agents, to obtain hanging identation, can be mirrored in
LaTeX with a list.

                                    -- Bill
Received on Sunday, 22 July 2001 14:25:07 UTC

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