W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > October 2002

Re: OL needs the start attribute

From: Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 23:43:45 +0300 (EEST)
To: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
cc: <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.30.0210182209460.5014-100000@kruuna.Helsinki.FI>

On 2002-10-17, David Woolley uttered to www-html@w3.org:

>The problem that HTML has in this area is that it is being used to make
>legal documents, particularly national legislation, accessible, and
>these use use section and paragraph numbers as their "hyperlinks".

If so, and full adaptation to the online world/structured documentation
conventions isn't possible, I'd like to iterate that that's what DL's and
tables are for.

>Unfortunately, the nature of legal documents is that you cannot safely
>change their appearence in this respect, so section 3a(4) has to remain
>that, not become blue underlined "Use of HTML in Legal Documents".

That simply means that whatever the thing we're representing really is, it
isn't a list in the naive, HTML sense. It should be encoded differently,
and we shouldn't change current list structures to accommodate the use.
The first pass solution is to utilize DL's and TABLE's, the long term one
is to come up with XHTML modules which can deal with the real semantics
(as opposed to list-like presentation) of what you're coding.

If this particular application really *is* important enough to adapt HTML
for, I'd say the people using it should have adequate incentives to come
up with the relevant XHTML modules for time-stamped structures, and the
rendering code needed to support them.

>Using something like DOCBOOK (assuming that it can do this) or Word
>(which can, but rarely is written to do so) destroys the accessibility.

I don't think so. In fact, the case can be made that DocBook, per se, is
in many cases more accessible than HTML. How's that? Well, it retains
wider semantics, which enable alternative user agents to better adapt the
way they present and represent the data.

That's theory, of course, unless there are widely available DocBook
browsers. But I think there are a few, and that in applications which need
the DTD, HTML should likely be considered a downgraded, compatibility or
transfer syntax. In such an application, HTML isn't supposed to faithfully
represent the original, but to best facilitate access to those aspects of
the original which *can* be represented.

I think HTML has spread widely precisely because it's a simple, easy
solution to representing common text. It's supposed to be neat and
straight-forward to implement, since otherwise it would suffer the fate of
CSS2 and the like -- it wouldn't be fully implemented, or as
useful/efficient as it could be. It'd lose on the market and be done away
with if we fit it with the nuisance of having to deal with each and every
list, table, paragraph, figure, etc, variation out there. That clearly
cannot be what we want.

(BTW, the proposal that we add hooks for arbitrary list labels is flawed
in at least two ways.

First, if what you're encoding is a list, the numbering is pure
presentation, as I've argued. From that viewpoint we'd be adding
presentational structures to HTML, the precise opposite of what we
*should* be doing.

Second, there are already structures to encode the kind of stuff we're
talking about, namely, DL's and TABLE's. Redundancy is another think HTML
should definitely avoid.)
Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - mailto:decoy@iki.fi, tel:+358-50-5756111
student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front
openpgp: 050985C2/025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2
Received on Friday, 18 October 2002 16:43:53 UTC

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