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Re: Against 'start' and 'value' attributes

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 17:48:13 -0800
To: www-html@w3.org, Toby A Inkster <tobyink@goddamn.co.uk>
Message-id: <v03102801ba7c6ce26ed1@[]>

Toby A Inkster wrote about list numbering to <www-html@w3.org> on 15
February 2003 in "Re: Against 'start' and 'value' attributes"

> It sometimes *can* be an essential part of the content.

I would argue that list numbering is never essential content in a
hypertext. The concern for the forseeable future, of course, is that
hypertext often turns into static text, as when printed. Since it is
unacceptable that references break upon printing, list numbering should
continue to have a place in HTML.

> For example, say I
> create an HTML version of the GNU General Public Licence [...]
> numbering the legal clauses using an ordered list.
> You'll notice that in the GPL, the first clause is numbered "0", the
> second "1" and so forth. If I acheive this numbering merely using style
> sheets, then a user agent that doesn't support style sheets will number
> them from "1" onwards.
> Later, on the same page, I am writing a criticism of the GPL and refer to
> "clause 1".

That's a fine mechanism of reference in plain text, but hypertext should
use machine-processable links. Regardless, I accept that people will
continue to use mechanisms of old media in new media. So let's follow the

> Somebody using a user agent that supports style sheets will
> see which clause I am referring to correctly. Somebody using a user agent
> that doesn't support style sheets will think I am referring to clause 0.
> You see, sometimes numbering ordered lists can be too important to leave
> to style sheets. The numbering can form a part of the content.

And here you've hit the key point. If the numbering is logically part of
the content, the document should represent the numbering as content, not as
markup. Attributes, like 'start' and 'value' in HTML, are markup.

Etan Wexler <mailto:ewexler@stickdog.com>
Received on Friday, 21 February 2003 20:50:40 UTC

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