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Should encoding of site structure be standardized?

From: Øystein Ingmar Skartsæterhagen <goystein_goy@yahoo.no>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 15:31:23 +0100 (CET)
Message-ID: <20030228143123.25993.qmail@web41608.mail.yahoo.com>
To: www-html@w3.org

I don't know if this has been discussed before, but
I'm quite sure there are currently no standard way of
doing this. If there has been a discussion on this,
please give me an URL to where I can find it.

On the web as it is today, all information is to be
structured into pages. But almost all web pages
logically belongs to a sort of larger group of
information, normally called a site. As far as I know,
the abstraction of "sites" is currently only something
the viewer of the web pages may make up based on
"context hints" in the content of the page, for
example a company name together with its logo
displayed at the top of all the pages belonging to
that company's site. But shouldn't it be possible to
unambigiously state that all those pages belong
together? Sholdn't each page only hold that individual
page's logical content, and headings/logos that
contain information about which site we are in be kept
in one single document for the whole site, and
rendered in every document which claims that it
belongs to that site (or which the site claims that
belongs to itself; I am not sure which way this sort
of link should go, probably it has to go both ways).

Another aspect of this is the site navigation. In many
sites there is some sort of navigation bar, which
looks the same on all of the pages in the site; or it
changes in a way that could be generally expressed
(for instance: it always includes all top-level pages,
all pages that are siblings of the current page, and
the path from the top down to the current page). Many
web editor programs contain a way to encode the site
structure and make navigation bars based on it, but
this is then just smashed into the HTML pages as
content (usually even as presentational HTML with
tables for presentation). This causes lots of pages to
contain much content which is (almost) exactly the
same for all of them, and which logically do not
belong to any of them, but to the larger logical block
"site" which cannot be implemented with today's
specifications.

In my browser (Opera 7.0), the link elements for
linking to previous and next page, home page, etc. are
(if present in the current document) displayed as a
sort of "navigation bar" right above the area where
the body of the page is displayed. With a "site
document" which shows the structure of a site, and
links to all the pages within it, and to which these
pages should also link (so that a UA knows where to
get it), the UAs could show a site navigation bar
somewhere outside the body of the page, instead of
that it has to be inserted to the page content (either
manually, which is about as fun and meaningful as to
write <font face="Arial"
size="5"><b>Heading</b></font> instead of
<h1>Heading</h1>; or by some sort of server side
processing or web content authoring tool that inserts
the navigation automatically). This "site document"
could also contain other information that applies to
the whole site, for example a title, a short
description, a heading or other content to be included
in each page, etc.

Is it possible to make a standard for something like
my idea of a "site document" (or "site definition
document"), or in any other way bringing the
abstraction of a "site" into concrete _standardized_
implementation?


  Øystein Skartsæterhagen




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Received on Friday, 28 February 2003 15:59:47 GMT

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