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Re: In support of the "line space" (nee <hr>)

From: Alexander Savenkov <w3@hotbox.ru>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 13:54:40 +0400
Message-ID: <1387766880.20020821135440@hotbox.ru>
To: www-html@w3.org, Micah Dubinko <MDubinko@cardiff.com>

Hello Micah, everyone,

> The initial Working Draft of XHTML includes a <hr> element in the
> "presentation" module. I will provide evidence that this is an incorrect
> classification in some cases.

> Here is a quote from Orson Scott Card's _Ender's Game__: (p 260)

>   Graff seemed unconcerned. But then, Graff always seemed unconcerned. The
> next day everything changed. Graff went away, and in his place they gave
> Ender a companion.

>                          ---

>   He was in the room when Ender awoke in the morning. He was an old man. ...


> On this particular printed page, the separator "---" is rendered as about a
> 1 cm line with lots of whitespace above and below. It is also commonly
> rendered as three asterisks.

> Separators such as this indicate a "break in the action", and often a
> character viewpoint change as well. They are part of the story, and not just
> decoration, like say border-bottom.
I rather doubt it. They are not part of the story while the paragraphs
they separate are. I would say you're confused by their presentation.
In fact they're plain subsections, but unlike the first one ("Graff
seemed...") the second ("He was...") has no heading. I. e. the author
considered the second subsection too small to give it a heading.

> In __Characters and Viewpoint__, also by
> Orson Scott Card, he says (p 157)

>   The next-clearest [after changing viewpoint characters on a chapter
> boundary] transitional device is the "line space"--a double-double space if
> you work on a typewriter, two hard carriage returns if you work on a word
> processor. ... Usually a line space is marked in manuscript with three
> asterisks, like this:

>                   *          *           *

>   The asterisks will usually appear in the finished book or magazine only if
> the line space falls at a page break. The rest of the time they'll be
> deleted, leaving only a blank line.
The example you give dates from the old days. For those using
typewriters there was no other way to deliver the semantics. Printed
books allowed more flexibility, still a usual book is black-and-white
and paper offers poor functionality when it comes to the structural
markup.

Instead, electronic documents provided the means to express general
constructs. Take a look at this:

<section>
 <h>Title of the book</h>
 <section>
  <h>Title of this subsection</h>
  <p>...Some text here</p>
  <p>Graff seemed unconcerned. But then, Graff always seemed
  unconcerned. The next day everything changed. Graff went away, and
  in his place they gave Ender a companion.</p>
 </section>
 <section>
 <p>He was in the room when Ender awoke in the morning. He was an old man.</p>
</section>

Note: the last section contains no heading element. Furthermore, it
seems unwise to insert a <hr /> or a <linespace /> there. In English
books asterisks/small lines are used, in other languages they are not.
Having the above mentioned markup implies better control over
presentation. Using CSS2/3 selectors one can insert an image, a phrase,
or anything else instead of just 'hr'. Once again, neither the line
itself, nor line break can cary semantics. They tell nothing about the
relationship between paragraphs/sections.

> This shows that the line space carries special semantics that for instance
> an ebook reader or speech device (and hopefully mainstream browsers) could
> render specially.
Compare to inserting an aural cue just before the last paragraph. Is
this what you need?

> The reason for the quotations is to show that this is a
> widespread practice,
In English-speaking countries, I presume. Adding a new empty element
with no information inside is not a good thing for the future Web, and
adding a bunch of presentational attributes to it (as Lorenzo De
Tomasi suggested) isn't very bright.

Regards,
--
  Alexander "Croll" Savenkov                  http://www.thecroll.com/
  w3@hotbox.ru                                     http://croll.da.ru/
Received on Wednesday, 21 August 2002 05:57:34 GMT

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