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Re: separator/seperator Re: About XHTML 2.0

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 07:41:28 +0300 (EEST)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0506030722210.18863@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Thu, 2 Jun 2005, Micah Dubinko wrote:

> For the record, one such reference is Orson Scott Card, _Characters &
> Viewpoint_, 1988 Writer's Digest Books, p. 157 under the heading
> "Changing Viewpoint Characters".

"The Chicago Manual of Style", 15th edition, says:

"1.79 /Other ways to break text./ When a break stronger than a paragraph
but not as strong as a subhead is required, a set of asterisks or a type
ornament, or simply a blank line, may be inserted between paragraphs.
Using a blank line has the disadvantage that it may be missed if the break
falls at the bottom of a page."

This seems to be in accordance with the reference you cite.

So it is really a separator between _paragraphs_, not at an arbitrary
level. Besides, logically speaking, it really does not relate just to the
paragraph before it and the paragraph after it but _sequences_ of
paragraphs. Denoting the break with * and paragraphs with p1, p2, ...,
the construct
   p1 p2 p3 * p4 p5 p6
does not really mean that * separates p3 from p4 but that it separates
p1 p2 p3 from p4 p5 p6.

An optional element like <pargroup> would express this nicely:
<pargroup>p1 p2 p3</pargroup> <pargroup>p4 p5 p6</pargroup>

This is a structure that actually appears in works of literature.
I guess part of the question is: do we want to offer some markup that can
be used to describe structures that people have used and are using in
their works, or do we just try to impose our ideas of how works _should_
be structured? Similarly, chapters, sections, subsections, and
subsubsections are structures actually used in literary works;
an abstract notion of "section" that can appear at any nesting level is,
at best, an abstraction with a name that suggests a more concrete meaning.

Should browsers be required to separate consecutive paragraph
groups from each other in the default presentation? I would say yes,
if we take markup seriously. Such grouping is no more "optional" in
rendering than paragraph structure. Naturally, the _method_ of indicating
the separation may vary. And browsers should be a little more clever than
with a simple <hr> or <separator>.

This is actually rather analogous with the move from <p> as a paragraph
_separator_ to <p> as a start tag for a paragraph element - a move that
was formally taken years ago, but the original idea (simple and natural in
a way) was reflected in people's thinking, authoring habits, and even
tutorials and commentaries long after that.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Friday, 3 June 2005 04:41:33 UTC

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