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+1 Re: XHTML 2.0 - dfn : Content model [semantic model] and usability

From: Al Gilman <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 11:38:34 -0400
Message-Id: <p06110407bef053209b1e@[10.0.1.2]>
To: Karl Dubost <karl@w3.org>, www-html-editor@w3.org
Cc: www-html@w3.org

At 10:48 AM -0400 7/5/05, Karl Dubost wrote:
>Hi,
>
>We had a discussion on a French Web developer mailing-list 
>[pompeurs][1] about dfn. The first comment was about the 
>understanding of the definition in the specification. The second 
>comment was about usability and to know if it was very useful.

[and later]

>So I'm not sure if dfn element is useful being underspecified.
>
>I propose either
>	- to drop it from the specification
>	- to add an element making possible to use it for automatic purpose.

I concur that it is underspecified and should be re-engineered.  The new form
might likely be a property for a container rather than a mark on a 
symbol instance.

There has been a lot of discussion without a full resolution [1] on a 
related topic,
"what markup techniques should be followed in authoring to make 
content friendlier
to those with reading difficulties?"  If the author was inclined to 
use 'dfn' markup
they clearly have the intent to use controlled vocabulary and we have 
their attention.
This is easier than gaining the author's cooperation with words that 
are just hard
because they are uncommon, where we have to flag the potential problems and
lure them into taking action to eliminate or document this word.

The PF working group is still interested in articulating patterns of 
practice, and
how XHTML 2.0 supports these patterns of practice, in these areas.

Karl, would you be able to join a PF telecon sometime to discuss this?  Or help
us build a topical action team including talent from the pompeurs 
list?  Anyone else
also interested in this topic please post to <wai-xtech@w3.org> 
including a reference
to [1] or [2].

Al

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-xtech/2004Sep/0002


[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-xtech/2005Jun/0013.html


>* Understanding DFN
>
>[[[
>9.4. The dfn element
>
>The dfn element contains the defining instance of the enclosed term.
>
>* Attributes
>
>The Common collection
>
>A collection of other attribute collections, including: Bi-
>directional, Core, Edit, Embedding, Events, Forms, Hypertext, I18N,
>Map, and Metainformation.
>
>* Example
>
>An <dfn id="def-acronym">acronym</dfn> is a word formed
>from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set
>phrase or series of words.
>]]] - http://www.w3.org/TR/2005/WD-xhtml2-20050527/mod-text.html#edef_text_dfn
>
>
>Maybe the first sentence should be something like:
>
>The dfn element contains a word (or a group of words) being defined 
>by one or more sentences.
>
>
>* Usability
>
>It may be good to give usability examples of this element. Why is it 
>useful to use this element?
>
>1. Human Usability.
>
>Defined once somewhere with an "id" (mandatory ?), the definition 
>can be linked from another document, or another part of the text 
>referring to this definition. It's human usability. Though someone 
>could argue that:
>
>	An <span id="def-acronym">acronym</span> is a word
>	formed from the initial letters or groups of letters
>     of words in a set phrase or series of words.
>
>is not a loss in usability at all. The dfn element having not direct 
>benefits for the user. Even better someone could choose to do.
>
>	Blah blah blah. <span id="def-acronym">An acronym is a word
>	formed from the initial letters or groups of letters
>     of words in a set phrase or series of words.</span> Blah blah blah.
>
>then it gives the same functionality for the user and it's easier to 
>extract the _exact_ definition.
>
>
>2. Machine Usability.
>
>Is dfn useful for a machine, a semantics analyzer agent or just a 
>tool to create a list of definition, a glossary from one or a series 
>of page. If we take the example given in XHTML 2.0 right now, I 
>would be inclined to say no.
>
>	An <span id="def-acronym">acronym</span> is a word
>	formed from the initial letters or groups of letters
>     of words in a set phrase or series of words.
>
>There's a missing element to be really useful.
>
>	- A definition can be created by more than one sentence.
>
>	<span clas="def">An <span id="def-acronym">acronym</span>
>	is a word formed from the initial letters or groups
>	of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words.
>	Another sentence. Yet another sentence.</span>
>
>	- A definition can be included in a more general paragraph.
>
>	Some prose. <span clas="def">An <span id="def-acronym">acronym</span>
>	is a word formed from the initial letters or groups
>	of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words.</span>
>	Some another prose.
>
>Without the span here, it's impossible for an agent to extract the 
>definition and make a glossary. The user, for sure, could have the 
>choice to do what I have just done, add span in the text. But that 
>would be with a random definition of the class name or the way to do 
>it.
>
>So I'm not sure if dfn element is useful being underspecified.
>
>I propose either
>	- to drop it from the specification
>	- to add an element making possible to use it for automatic purpose.
>
>
>[1]: http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/pompeurs/
>
>--
>Karl Dubost - http://www.w3.org/People/karl/
>W3C Conformance Manager
>*** Be Strict To Be Cool ***
Received on Tuesday, 5 July 2005 16:39:29 GMT

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