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Re: Possible method for adding footnotes.

From: Jared Warren <warren@cs.queensu.ca>
Date: 07 Feb 2003 14:00:12 -0500
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <1044644413.514.87.camel@foobox.dyndns.org>

[deletia]
> > One was to add a <note/> element that works like this:
> > 
> >   <p>
> >     C. S. Lewis suggested <note>This was in a letter to a young
> >     fan</note> that his Narnian chronicles had biblical roots.
> >   </p>
> > 
> > The disadvantage of this would be that a user agent without note support 
> > would render the note inline as [...]
> This is not really an important disadvantage, since it is trivial for an
> XHTML2 UA to support such a <note/> element at a basic level (simply hide
> its content).
> 
> This is one of the advantages of XHTML2 not having to be backwards
> compatible: we can introduce elements that cannot be ignored.
[deletia]

But shouldn't we aim to have elements act as much like other elements as
possible? And shouldn't we stray from [at least approximate] backwards
compatibility only when necessary?

On the other hand, it seems to me that the fundamental problem with
footnotes is that we have a caste system of child nodes: attributes can
only hold character data but content can hold subelements. (I feel this
is related to the limitations with the content property of the :before
and :after pseudo-elements in CSS2.) Short of overhauling everything,
the only way I see of allowing for rich footnotes is to make the
contents the content as others have suggested.

Putting the footnote contents elsewhere in the document is fundamentally
style markup. It is totally arbitrary to put notes at the bottom of a
page or end of a document. So if it's decided that the risk of rendering
inline is too great, the only other option seems to be moving the
footnote contents to outside the document body (the head or a new
section?) or a seperate file (like IMG's longdesc attribute).

~ Jared Warren <warren@cs.queensu.ca>
Computing Science, Queen's University
Received on Friday, 7 February 2003 14:00:21 GMT

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