W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > August 2003

<name> element

From: Reinthaler, Frank <Frank.Reinthaler@auspost.com.au>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 13:14:25 +1000
Message-ID: <EFA34A363840164C903B6A88C032D0F109E7B660@exsmel04.hq.auspost.com.au>
To: www-html@w3.org


Hi www-html@w3.org,

I would like to revive discussion on the usefulness and practicality of a
<name> element for XHTML2. This element was suggested previously by Jason
Orendorff (see
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-html/1999Oct/0115.html for example).
The element would be simple i.e. <name>Isaac Newton</name>.

I do not think that such a <name> element would be trivial. The benefits
that I can see are:
 - it adds semantic richness that is not currently there in HTML
 - information marked-up with <name> is highly beneficial for current
indexing methods
 - differentiating text such as "the the" (i.e. a duplication error) from
<name>The the</name> (name of the artist)

The "of" attribute suggested back in 1999 seems to me to be a wise and
practical idea. For example <name of="movie">Zorba the Greek</name> rather
than <name of="book">Zorba the Greek</name>, <name of="character">Zorba the
Greek</name> or <name of="song">Zorba the Greek</name>. (A list of possible
"of" attribute values could be suggested by the W3C and further defined by
third-party groups along the lines of the Dublin Core metadata initiative.)

There are of course many different naming schemes which can't possibly be
covered in a simple language like the HTML family is supposed to be. I *do
not* suggest that we go further into the semantic structure than a simple
<name> element
i.e. no 
	<name of="person">
		<christian>Isaac</christian>
		<surname>Newton</surname>
	</name>
or other cultural specific naming conventions. Nor do I suggest that we go
into specialist naming conventions i.e.
	<name of="animal">
		<genus>Canis</genus>
		<species>Familiaris</species>
	</name>

One of the possible criticisms is that in any particular HTML page there are
dozens of names of things that could be marked up with <name>. This is a
valid point but the I think the benefits nevertheless outweigh this - we're
not after perfection here! It is of course up to the page author to decide
which names should be marked-up with <name>.

From the list thread for the previous discussion the <cite> element was
mentioned as already fulfilling the same function as <name> would. However
from the HTML 4.01 Spec it states "CITE: Contains a citation or a reference
to other sources." which is not what <name> would fulfil at all!
Furthermore, I have noticed on the mailing list that <cite> causes confusion
and is the topic of some debate on whether or not it should be merged with
other elements. The usage for the <name> element would be self-evident to
anyone.

As this is such a basic and fundamental idea for an element I can only
wonder why it was not adopted a long time ago. I am sure that there are many
people on this list who have been involved in the development of HTML for a
very long time that can enlighten us all about this :-)

regards,
Frank Reinthaler

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Received on Wednesday, 13 August 2003 23:16:09 UTC

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