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Re: Proposal for XHTML 2.0: The <footnote> element

From: Herr Christian Wolfgang Hujer <Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 01:16:58 +0100
To: www-html@w3.org, Jonas Jørgensen <jonasj@jonasj.dk>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
Message-Id: <200301150116.58414.Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com>

Hello Jonas, dear list members,

Am Mittwoch, 15. Januar 2003 00:29 schrieb Jonas Jørgensen:
> [This message is CC'ed to www-html-editor in accordance with what I
> believe is the official way to suggest new elements. Please don't CC
> www-html-editor on followups to this message.]
Thanks for the reminder.
I instead cc: to www-style because I think footnotes will affect CSS.

> I hereby propose for inclusion in XHTML 2.0 a <footnote> element for
> marking up footnotes.
> Typically, footnotes in HTML are done using "[1]" (or similar) as the
> reference to the footnote, with the number linked to a paragraph at the
> bottom of the document. Here's an example of such markup:
> <p>There exists no element for marking up footnotes[<a
> href="#footnote1">1</a>] in the current XHTML 2.0 draft.</p>
> <p id="footnote1">A footnote is a note of reference or comment at the
> foot of a page.</p>
> There are several problems with this approach:
> * When printed, the footnote will be on the last page instead of on the
> page containing the reference to the footnote.
> * When copying text containing a footnote from one HTML document to
> another, you need to copy two pieces of text from two different places
> in the document.
> * If you add a footnote in the middle of a document, you need to
> renumber the footnotes in the rest of the document manually.
> These problems could be solved by marking up the footnote as a footnote
> and putting the footnote where it belongs, after the text that
> references it, instead of at the end of the document.
> With a <footnote> element, the above example would become:
> <p>There exists no element for marking up footnotes<footnote>A footnote
> is a note of reference or comment at the foot of a page.</footnote> in
> the current XHTML 2.0 draft.</p>
> Additional advantages of this approach:
> * Cleaner markup; easier to read and write.
> * User agents can handle presentation any way they want. For example, a
> visual user agent might insert a footnote reference where the <footnote>
> element is, and display the contents of the <footnote> element at the
> bottom of the canvas when the reference is visible.
> * Aural user agents can handle footnotes in a more user-friendly manner.

Yeah. I really like this idea.
I think most of what is required to achieve that formatting is already 
included in CSS3 (especially the enhancements over CSS2 in Paged Media 
Properties for CSS3: http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-page )
I hope someone more deep into CSS3 than me can tell more about how far 
<footnote/> could be implemented using <span class="footnote"/> with a 
corresponding rule.

But I'd not call if footnote - I think it should be more generic since one 
might want to use if for the bibliography or glossary as well.
So what about
<h>There are two laws of nature:</h>
        <l>In reality<note type="glossary">the world of matter</note>, 
resources are short<note type="bibliography"><cite>Das Kapital, 
ISBN...</cite></note>. Reproduction consumes resources.</l>
        <l>That makes capitalism a successful model in reality. Companies and 
their success are an example for that.</l>
        <l>In virtuality<note type="glossary">the world of thoughts</note>, 
resources are opulent. Reproduction does not consume resources.</l>
        <l>That makes socialism<note type="footnote">thinking socialism is bad 
just because people tell you to think so is just as bad as thinking socialism 
is good just because people tell you to think so</note> a successful model in 
virtuality. Open Source and its success is an example for that.</l>

I admit, it might be "DocBook and transform it to XHTML using XSLT", what we 
are looking for.
But then, there are Jonas' good arguments about the formatting of footnotes.

The type attribute might also be renamed so it won't be confused with a type 
attribute taking a mime type as value.
The types glossary, bibliography, footnote and endnote should be predefined, 
that is, there should be default CSS rules like
note[type="footnote"] {
    /* ... */

Then again, there must be a mechanism to "insert" the notes, maybe someone 
wants the notes at the beginning or at the end of the document.

Oh this is a complex topic.

I just wanted to add some ideas to discuss about. I do not claim anything I 
wrote makes sense.

Christian Wolfgang Hujer
Geschäftsführender Gesellschafter
Telefon: +49  (0)89  27 37 04 37
Telefax: +49  (0)89  27 37 04 39
E-Mail: Christian.Hujer@itcqis.com
WWW: http://www.itcqis.com/
Received on Tuesday, 14 January 2003 19:17:35 UTC

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