W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > March 2003

Re: Against 'start' and 'value' attributes

From: Daniel Glazman <glazman@netscape.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003 16:29:50 +0100
Message-ID: <3E6CAF6E.5000902@netscape.com>
To: www-html@w3.org

Etan Wexler wrote:

>>If I receive a text with questions numbered 1 to 6 in a list
>>and only have answers to 2 to 4, I may want to start a list with start="2".
> Sure, I agree that one may want to start a list at a number other than 1.
> What I don't agree is that a 'start' attribute is a good solution. What if
> you have only answers to 2, 4, and 5? With a simplistic 'start' attribute,
> you cannot express the correct information.

Strange answer, indeed. In summary, you tell me that my argument is not
relevant because users may as well want to type lists than do not
represent a range. I agree; but that does not suppress the fact they
also may want to do ranges!

> An element of a list-marker type
> accomodates both this case and many more with facility. Consider:
> <ol>
>  <li><marker>2.</marker> ...</li>
>  <li><marker>4.</marker> ...</li>
>  <li><marker>5.</marker> ...</li>
> </ol>

In an ideal world, we would have IDREFs and CSS styles allowing to do 
everything. We're not in that world.

>>Not all instances of lists with a start index > 1 are continuing lists.
> I'm glad that you raised this point. I had failed to consider it. But now,
> having considered it, I remain at my original position. I do not think that
> a 'start' attribute is the solution, as noted above.

Still disagreeing.

>>The "let's do that with CSS" answer is not more satisfying. The fact
>>that the list's numbering starts at 2 instead of 1 is not purely
>>presentational but also content-related.
> I half agree. Numbering becomes an essential part of content in cases where
> hypertext does not apply. Printed documents like legal briefs are prime
> examples. And, without a doubt, people will use XHTML 2 to comment on
> print-only documents. Numbering therefore remains a real concern.

Woof. From 1991 until now, the number of "without a doubt" predictions
that finally became true is imho very limited...

> What I must emphasize, though, is that reference by number (or other mark)
> is a leftover of non-hyper text. In a pure hypertext, reference would be by
> links. If, in your example, links connected each answer to the corresponding
> question, a user agent could follow the links and present the corresponding
> list item markers with your answers.

Right. IDREFs. See below.

> In pure hypertext, numbering typically is presentational. The
> machine-readable link forms the stable basis of the reference mechanism
> available to the user. The particular numbers used as labels become
> unimportant; even if the numbers change in the original, the change
> propagates effortlessly through all affected documents.

That's far too idealistic. Imagine a list of questions but they don't 
have IDs, you can't target them. You can't modify that because that part 
of the document is readonly. What do you do ?

Received on Monday, 10 March 2003 10:29:47 UTC

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