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Re: comments on 2002-12-12 XHTML 2.0 WD

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 05:04:41 -0500
Message-ID: <10011728679.20021225050441@stickdog.com>
To: www-html@w3.org, Daniel Glazman <glazou_2000@yahoo.fr>

Daniel Glazman, not representing any organization, wrote to
<www-html@w3.org> on 25 December 2002 in "comments on 2002-12-12 XHTML
2.0 WD" (<mid:20021218113414.88593.qmail@web20007.mail.yahoo.com>):  

> 1. I regret that a proprietary extension to HTML was not
>    standardized and added to XHTML : the contenteditable attribute. It
>    allows to make an element and its contents editable in a browser.
>    Simple, powerful, efficient and to be fair, very well done. This
>    attribute was proposed by Microsoft loooong time ago, is widely
>    used and I have always expressed admiration for this solution

The 'contenteditable' attribute type is a kludge whose greatest
service (from the historical view) is to make plain the need for user
agents that can edit content in addition to displaying it.

To write that an attribute allows making an element editable is only
half true.  Ultimately it is the user agent which allows editing an
element.  The user agent may be robust and powerful, allowing editing
of any element or even of any content that it can render.  The user
agent may be weaker than that, allowing editing only in the presence
of a particular attribute value.  The user agent may be quite
restrictive and allow no editing whatsoever.

Microsoft may have proposed the  'contenteditable' attribute type a
long time ago, but Web browsers that function also as editors are as
old as the Web itself.  When Tim Berners-Lee dreamed of a global
information network that we now call the World Wide Web, his dream
included read/write software.  Indeed, he created such software on his
NeXT box during that period (1990 or 1991, if memory serves).  If NeXT
had been a popular system, we would not be having this discussion; we
would be busy editing Web pages from our everyday browsers.  But
NeXT was not popular, and the rest is sad history.

I do not understand why, when a vendor has taken the trouble to
implement editing capabilities in a user agent, the vendor would make
such capabilities generally unavailable.  Why should users rely on
authors for explicit permission to modify content?

Etan Wexler <mailto:ewexler@stickdog.com>
Received on Wednesday, 25 December 2002 05:35:12 UTC

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