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Re: code, samp, kbd, var (was: Re: Complex Table Examples)

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 20:11:58 +1000
Message-ID: <464835EE.7010802@lachy.id.au>
To: Philip & Le Khanh <Philip-and-LeKhanh@Royal-Tunbridge-Wells.Org>
CC: www-html@w3.org

Philip & Le Khanh wrote:
> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>> It's important to realise that the HTML5 did not start with HTML4 and 
>> then remove features.  It started with a clean slate and added 
>> features that had evidence to support them (usually), and will drop 
>> features that have insufficient support.
> 
> Fair enough : could you tell us what the evidence was that supported
> the addition of <code>, <var>, <samp> and <kbd> ?

I think David Woolley covered use cases reasonably well already, but 
here's a brief list of practical issues I can recall from memory.

They're widely used already.  Dropping them would would cost more than 
keeping them, since trying to migrate existing content to HTML5 would 
require removing them from all documents being migrated, and that 
wouldn't help anyone while losing somewhat valuable semantics.

I realise they're somewhat specific to computer science, and if we were 
creating a language from scratch, this issue might have slightly more 
relevance.  But if they were removed, something new would need to be 
added (probably through some extension mechanism) and that would be 
against the design principle of don't reinvent the wheel.

var is one of the semantic uses for italics.  Sure, we could probably 
drop it in favour of <i>, but then you and others would be complaining 
even more about us creating a presentational language.

code, samp and var have a practical application in translation tools 
like Babel Fish.  Their contents won't be translated.  That makes the 
most sense for code, since you can't expect to translate code and still 
expect it to compile or execute.  Whether or not it should apply to samp 
and var is probably debatable, but that's a minor theoretical issue that 
isn't particularly relevant, since this is what the tool actually does.

-- 
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
Received on Monday, 14 May 2007 10:12:20 GMT

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