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different uses of xhtml

From: Lorenzo De Tomasi <lorenzo.detomasi@libero.it>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 01:15:47 +0100
To: <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <BA4BB842.26F4%lorenzo.detomasi@libero.it>

I want to focus some ways I can approach the semantic web as editor. I know
there are a lot of shadings between these ways and a lot of other different
ways, but I think these two are representative and diffuse.
They can be easily associated to professions.

1. Content editor way
Goal:       1. write a text with images and and publish it as html or pdf in
the faster and easier way;
Solution:   1. create contents;
            2. structure contents adding xhtml strict tags;
            3. open the contents in a browser or pdf reader with good
default layout settings;
Efforts:    1. learn xhtml
Now if I write an xhtml strict doc and I view it with the browser default
settings the result is horrible: we need better default setting that people
like and doesn't need to change.
If I try to open an xhtml strict doc with Acrobat Reader it doesn't open: I
think that we must join the efforts to create more compatibility between
xhtml and pdf, so that docs written in xhtml strict can be opened by both
browsers and pdf readers.

At least I may want to change the default layout style of the browser (or of
the pdf reader, if possible) choosing it from other already made styles. By
this way I have to search for a css I like and I have to link its URI to the
xhtml doc, without learning css.

To do this it's important to:
a. create a set of xhtml elements and attributes of default that permit to
easily structure the contents and to display them in a complex layout only
using the default settings of the browsers, without learning css.
A content editor usually doesn't know he can obtain everything he wants
writing some complex (for him) CSS rule, and also if he knows he would still
prefer the easier solution of using an element or an attribute directly in
I think that xhtml2 is walking on the right path introducing elements as
section, h, p, l, blockquote, quote, cite, code, samp, dfn, address, abbr,
span, strong, em, var, but it needs to have more elements so that it can
suit most people needings, like:
    1 notes [inline sidenotes, foot notes, end notes, image notes (captions
& legends)];
    2 bibliography (with a default suggested structure);
    ... (other suggestions?)
- hire some experts in information architecture, typography and graphic
design to create a functional default layout and presentational style for
each xhtml element and default class; this default style will be adopted
identical by every browser and must have every useful character like euro,
mathematical symbols, copyright symbol, accented characters, etc.
- hire some experts of legibility, readability and typography to adopt or
create very legible and public domain serif and sans serif fonts for
monitors and for printed documents [like Verdana (sans serif) and Info
(serif) for western countries] and distribute with and use it in each
browser as default.

2. Graphic designer way
Goal:       1. freely create a web site with personalized layout and
graphic. Usually the graphic designer is disposed, if necessary, to sacrify
easiness for maximum possibility of personalization, but doesn't like
complex ways to do things (like writing a lot of code) and he doesn't want
to become a programmer :P.
A graphic designer usually knows he can obtain what he wants writing some
complex (for him) CSS rule but still prefers the easier solution of using an
element or an attribute directly in xhtml.

Solution:   1. create contents;
            2. structure contents adding xhtml tags;
            3. create a personalized layout with css;
            4. visualize the contents with their layout in a browser.
Efforts:    1. learn xhtml;
            2. learn css.
More the settings are the same identical for each browser and very
functional, the less I have to personalize to obtain a good site.
Default classes or specific css commands may be an easier solution that
doesn't oblige graphic designer to learn difficult programming languages.
Xhtml tables are a good example: they may be created more freely with a
combination of <div>, but the tags <table>, <tr> and <td> and their
attributes are easier and faster to understand.
So if notes and bibliography can be easily obtained with a complex use of
css3, some dedicated tags and attributes can make our life asier.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The right solution for the content editor (1) may be that of creating a list
of default attributes:
    * <note>This is a default note</note>
    * <note class="sideright">This creates a note in a column on the right
of the text, starting at the height of the line where the <note> tag is
    * <note class="sideleft">This creates a note in a column on the left of
the text, starting at the height of the line where the <note> tag is
    * <note class="end">Endnotes would, of course, go at the end of the
    * <note class="foot">Footnotes would be placed at the end of the

The browser has a default css for each class and applies it by default.

Graphic designers may specify more precise presentational settings in css
code, like
note.sideright { margin-left: 10px; width: 100px }

3. Programmers way
Usually programmers prefer to write complex and precise code because it's
their job and they understand it.
So they don't like easier attributes, but complex css code like this:
  <TITLE>Markers to create numbered notes4>/TITLE>
  <STYLE type="text/css">
   P { margin-left: 12 em; }
   P.Note::marker {
      content: url("note.gif") "Note " counter(note-counter) ":";
      text-align: left;
      width: 10em;
   P.Note {
     display: list-item;
     counter-increment: note-counter;
  <P>This is the first paragraph in this document.</P>
  <P CLASS="Note">This is a very short document.</P>
  <P>This is the end.</P>

Which results in the following:

            This is the first paragraph
            in this document.

  Note 1:   This is a very short
            This is the end.

I'm joking :P

I think that every way must be considered.
I hope this e-mail may help you in choosing the right way for xhtml...
Lorenzo De Tomasi, student of Information Architecture, Interface Design and
Visual Design
via Bellaria 6, 21018 Sesto Calende (Varese), Italia
phone: +39 (0)331 924649
mobile: +39 329 3941065; +39 333 8979304
e-mail: lorenzo.detomasi@libero.it; lorenzo.detomasi@email.it
website: http://biografica.tzone.it
ICQ uin: 11313132
Yahoo! Instant Messenger id: tummait
Received on Wednesday, 15 January 2003 19:15:54 GMT

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