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Re: Some comments on the current draft

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2006 08:36:39 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200609260736.k8Q7adR01453@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-html@w3.org

> "Values of attributes" can be perfectly standardized in a  
> specification. A few of them have been in the past. For example, see  
> "section 6.12 Link Types"[2] or section "6.13 Media descriptors"[3]

The original HTML specification more or less fully defined link types but
the trend has been to abdicate more and more responsibilty for these.
With the exception of one or two introduced by vendors and by Google,
and the boiler plate for stylesheets, they tend only to be used by
those people who are relatively standards aware, so tend to be either
be used in more or less standard ways, not at all.  On the other hand
tandardisation of class attribute values is extremely low.

> > - Recommend that any semantic extension be produced via namespaced XML
> > extensions. If any of these extensions become particularly popular,
> > the W3C should get involved in standardizing them too.
> 
> This is opposite to what you said earlier in your mail.
> 	"The role of a standards body should be to standardize
> 	what people are already doing, possibly nudging them

This doesn't seem to conflict, except, possible for the rider about 
nudging.

> 	gently towards more flexible or accurate practices."
> 
> If we look at what is happening right in the HTML community, most of  
> the people are using "class" attribute to extend the semantics of  
> their documents more than using "namespaces".

The valid reason for this is backwards compatibility, but I think,
possibly more important reasons are:

- most web designers don't care about standardisation, except possibly
  for standardisation of presentational aspects within their site;
  if presentation free semantics don't help in the Google results,
  they aren't important at all;

- there is a lot of inertia - the attitude is:  if classes work, why
  use something different;

- because the amount that people have to learn in software development
  exceeds what most people can take in, almost everyone resorts to some
  level of cut and paste coding, and this seems particularly prevalent
  in web site design - I think many web designers almost exclusively
  simply copy idioms from other sites, without really understanding them,
  or even why they may be abuses;

- for the people who do small web site developments and the people who
  do the static mockups for web applications, class names which are
  (abusive use) macros for presentational effects are within their 
  comprehension, but namespaces are too abstract and require too much
  paperwork.  (Actually, I get the impression that small site developers
  may actually be producing better HTML these days than the big corporates -
  that may be because the education system is beginning to teach the theory,
  but large teams are dominated by managers who learnt their trade 
  much more informally, in the tag soup era, and as managers tend to do,
  discount academic learning.)
Received on Tuesday, 26 September 2006 20:16:29 GMT

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