W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > April 2008

Re: proposed li:marker pseudo-class

From: Ernest Cline <ernestcline@mindspring.com>
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2008 01:44:27 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <4276330.1207374267315.JavaMail.root@mswamui-valley.atl.sa.earthlink.net>
To: Philip TAYLOR <Philip-and-LeKhanh@Royal-Tunbridge-Wells.Org>
Cc: www-html@w3.org

-----Original Message-----
>From: Philip TAYLOR <Philip-and-LeKhanh@Royal-Tunbridge-Wells.Org>
>Ernest --
>> What gets lost in the current quixotic quest 
>> for the semantic web, is that at first HTML 
>> wasn't all that semantic.  OL and UL were 
>> but two flavors of list markup along with 
>> MENU and DIR that were concerned far more 
>> with the appearance than the semantics of 
>> the markup.  
>What is your evidence for this statement ?
>What leads you to believe that appearance,
>rather than semantics, were the intended
>purpose of <OL> and <UL>

Let me quote from the 1993 HTML draft:
"A list is a sequence of paragraphs, each of which may be preceded by a special mark or sequence number."

Both UL and OL (as well as MENU and DIR) were thus defined as having a sequence and hence an order.  The distinction between the two was that the order of an OL was going to be used enough to warrant including the order in the formatting.  UL, MENU, and DIR were all elements for lists in which the order was of lesser importance, with the only difference being the suggested formatting.
You can see the initial lack of a neat division between semantics and formatting in HTML with other deprecated elements as well.  XMP and LISTING were variants of PRE that differed from each other solely in that XMP was to displayed in a font that guaranteed 80 columns could be shown while LISTING was supposed to guarantee that 132 could be shown.  That isn't to say that semantics were totally neglected, but the total separation of semantics from formatting was not the original conception of HTML.  Besides, that only came later once 

Finally, let me point out that both UL and OL have their origin as element names in the GML based precursors of HTML.  GML was definitely formatting oriented.

That's not to say that a semantic meaning couldn't be grafted onto the two, but I've never heard anyone give a compelling reason why a browser should be free to render the LI's of a UL in any order it wishes, and given the possibility that the text may refer to the 3rd item of a bulleted list, I have a compelling reason why it shouldn't.
Received on Saturday, 5 April 2008 05:45:05 UTC

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