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

Re: Design aims of XHTML 2.0

From: Lachlan Hunt <lhunt07@postoffice.csu.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 02:08:39 +1100
Message-ID: <3FA66F77.6010804@postoffice.csu.edu.au>
To: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Cc: www-html@w3.org



David Woolley wrote:

>>Are there any formal criteria here?  Are there any studies on markup
>>language usability that could be employed?
>>    
>>
>
>I think even just an informal look at how people write HTML and Word
>documents would show that the language needs to be unstructured and
>presentational!  The average person (including the average graduate
>from good universities - both arts and sciences) appears to have
>extreme difficulty in formalising structure in a document.
>
That's absolutely true!  From my experience, people have the greatest 
difficulty trying to understand that well-formatted documents come as a 
result of using good structure.  Most people, I assume, believe it's the 
other way around, or, worse, that structure isn't important.

>I think usability will have to come from authoring tools.  The
>language can only help by having very very few concepts and 
>(if this is possible at all) making it very difficult to abuse
>it presentationally (tools for mass market use would abuse it
>in that way, given the chance).
>
  The best thing that authoring tools could do to improve usability and 
put more focus onto structure rather than formatting would be to remove 
the menus and buttons from the tool bar such as font, font size, bold, 
italic, underline, strike through, line spacing, etc... (ie. anything 
similar to a deprecated HTML element) and implement something similar 
to, but still more structure oriented than, the Styles and Formatting 
Task Pane in M$ Office XP.

  If something like this listed all the available elements (perhaps 
listing only, or disabling, elements that aren't allowed to be used.  
(eg. preventing block elements within inline elements).  Also, allowing 
these elements to be seperated into different (user-defined) classes and 
ids within the list.  Implementing stylesheets in a GUI is still 
something, from my experience, that really needs a lot more work done.

  Also, maybe the WG should spend some more time looking at as many 
possible ways that the language can be abused.
  eg. Obviously, the abuse of tables is well known, so I won't bother 
discussing that, but what about things like the new <h> element?
  Do we really want people able to use <h> elements outside of <section> 
elements, which would allow authors to avoid <section> completely and 
just style <h> tags to get the 'structured look'.
eg.
<body>
    <h class="level1">Heading 1</h>
    <h class="level2">Heading 2</h>
</body>

instead of

<body>
    <section>
        <h>Heading 1</h>
        <section>
            <h>Heading 2</h>
        </section>
    </section>
</body>

>   I think usability may be the biggest challenge, and may be an 
> impossible problem.

I don't think it's impossible, it just requires the commitment of the 
authoring tool developers... especially those in a M$onopoly position.
Received on Monday, 3 November 2003 10:08:38 UTC

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