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The X in HTML

From: Philip TAYLOR [PC87S/O-XP] <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 15:42:48 +0100
Message-ID: <3D57C968.43327CF6@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: Masayasu Ishikawa <mimasa@w3.org>
CC: www-html@w3.org

The more arguments I see for "We need an <x> tag in XHTML"
(for x in {Title, notice, ...), the more I wonder why the
X in XHTML isn't (apparently) being exploited.  Let me explain.

When I first encountered HTML, and coming from a strong TeX
background, it was immediately obvious to me that despite
HTML's clear advantages over TeX, what it lacked was any
concept of extensibility.  If tag <x> wasn't in the DTD,
then tag <x> couldn't be used.  TeX, on the other hand,
would allow me to define an arbitrary production \x
in terms of primitives (\p, \p', \p'', ...) or other 
user-defined  productions (\x', \x'' and so on).

When XHTML was first mooted, I assumed (with considerable
pleasure) that HTML was to become truly extensible, using
a model analogous to (but not necessarily based on) TeX's
macro-definition and macro-expansion paradigms.  But now
that XHTML is truly here, and XHTML 2.0 is already being
discussed, I still see no signs of that much-needed

I am certain that the powers-that-be at W3C must have 
considered, and discussed, just such extensibility
many times, but I have never seen a document explaining
why it has never been proposed and implemented.  If it
/were/ implemented, then a user wanting a tag <x> (e.g.,
<Title>, <notice>, ...) could immediately define such
a tag in terms of pre-existing tags such as <section>,
<div>, <span> or what-have-you.  

Could I therefore ask Masayasu Ishikawa, or another member
of the W3C, to talk us through the W3C's position on
this concept of "Xtensibility through macros" as I will
call it ?

Philip Taylor, RHBNC
Received on Monday, 12 August 2002 10:45:53 UTC

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