W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > May 2007

Re: Separating core elements from domain-specific

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 04:09:25 +1000
Message-ID: <4648A5D5.4090606@lachy.id.au>
To: "Philip Taylor (Webmaster)" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
CC: www-html@w3.org

Philip Taylor (Webmaster) wrote:
> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>> Well, you try explaining to everyone why they can no longer use these 
>> elements that have worked, and will continue to work, but instead have 
>> to use a yet to be defined extension, which isn't backwards compatible.
> 
> I think it /could/ be backwards-compatible (at everything except 
> pure source code level).  Imagine an HTML that consisted only of 
> those elements that we can be certain are required by virtually 
> all classes of document : <html>, <head>, <title>, <script>, <style>, 
> <meta>, <link>, <body>, <p>, <h$n$>, <ol>, <ul>, <li>, <a>, <img>, 
> <object>, <table>, <div> and <span> (there may be others, but this 
> suggestion is about concepts rather than detail).

What is the real problem you are trying to solve by restricting the core 
of HTML to such a limited vocabulary?

> And suppose that there were a mechanism by which additional elements 
> could be used, so long as a suitable definition thereof was provided, 
> using (say)
>     
>     <link rel="HTML-Dialect" href="wherever">

That would never work.

Consider the <head profile=""> attribute that was intended to be used 
for a similar purpose for extending the values or rel, rev and class. 
In practice, that has failed.  Microformats work reliably without using 
it.  Many microformat UAs don't bother looking for it, most authors 
don't bother setting it properly (some CMSs just include the XFN URI by 
default, regardless of what microformats are used) and end users just 
don't care.

You should also consider that all elements are going to continue to work 
perfectly well in browsers, without using that, and so the only few who 
would bother would be yourself and a few others who seem to care more 
about theoretical semantic purity, than developing a useful and 
practical language for everybody.

> Obviously, since a document can actually span two or more universes of 
> discourse, multiple <link>s of rel "HTML-Dialect" would be permitted.

And since many authors simply wouldn't understand which one they have to 
include, nor why it's necessary, authoring tools, CMSs, etc. would just 
have to include them all by default; at which point, it becomes useless 
boilerplate markup and we're no better off than we would be if we'd just 
go without.

> If we /could/ move in this direction, I think that the WHATWG would find
> that a great deal of the present resistance to their proposals would
> disappear ...

Perhaps resistance from yourself and a few others would reduce, but much 
greater resistance would result from everyone else who would object to 
your solution on the grounds of it being ineffective and not actually 
solving any real problem.

-- 
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
Received on Monday, 14 May 2007 18:09:50 GMT

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