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Re: modification of the <dfn> element

From: fantasai <fantasai@escape.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 03:41:59 -0500
Message-ID: <3E38E557.4050705@escape.com>
To: www-html@w3.org

Mjumbe Ukweli wrote:
> small issue proposal:
> 
> I would like to suggest that the definition of the <dfn> element be
> modified.  The meaning of the element currently is that whatever's between
> the <dfn> and </dfn> tags is the term being defined.  However, this use of
> an element when I think about it seems rather useless.  What good is it to
> let an agent know that a term is going to be defined without telling the
> agent where the definition is?  The only use I can see for <dfn /> is in
> case a user wants to style definition terms differently than everything
> else.

<dfn> is for marking up the *defining instance* of a term, not
every instance of it.

Mark Nodine gives a very good example in
http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_id=3572082
(Relevant text starts in the third quoted paragraph.)

Note that the term occurs in running text, and that not all
examples will have this one's simplistic sentence structure.
Markup for glossaries is covered by <dl>. /That/ is term
definition markup distinct enough for a computer to process.

 > What might be better is to use the <dfn> element as if everything inside
 > of the <dfn> and </dfn> tags were the definition of some term.  Then if a
 > <term> element were introduced, the two elements together would be able to
 > be used to portray much more than the <dfn> element can alone.

Switching element semantics like that is a poor way to
introduce added functionality. It confuses authors and
UAs and developers and anyone else involved.

~fantasai
Received on Thursday, 30 January 2003 03:42:08 GMT

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