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Re: <U> Deprecated

From: Bert Bos <Bert.Bos@sophia.inria.fr>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 16:07:58 +0200 (MET DST)
To: "'www-style'" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <14228.32023.273867.172187@www43.inria.fr>
Jason Weigle writes:
 > If I could just comment about something that Steven
 > wrote. Be wary when using <span> to delineate sections
 > to apply style to. <span> is a Netscape origninated
 > tag, designed specifically for use in stylesheets and
 > such. To my knowledge(and please correct me if I'm
 > wrong), Internet Explorer's rendering of this tag is
 > limited, if not non-existent.

This is not true. The SPAN element has three origins:

  - The work on internationalization of HTML (see RFC 2070). SPAN
    was introduced to mark phrases that are in a different language
    from their context or in a different direction (right-to-left vs
    left-to-right). Here is were the name "SPAN" originated.

  - The work on style and CSS in the IETF's HTML working group and
    (later) W3C's CSS working group. The name proposed was "C" but was 
    quickly merged with the above SPAN. The DIV element also came from 
    this effort, as the block-level companion of SPAN.

  - The work on extensibility of HTML. Since HTML has a fixed set of
    elements, the only extensibility is in the values of the
    attributes. In particular the CLASS attribute was introduced to
    enable subclassing elements and custom tags. You cannot use
    <notepar> or <shoe>, but you can use <p class=note> or <span
    class=shoe>. SPAN and DIV are thus neutral elements that you can
    subclass at will.

Both Netscape and Microsoft implement SPAN (and DIV), as do nearly all
other HTML applications. I'm not aware of any special limitations in
IE's handling of SPAN (other than general limitations in the CSS
implementation that apply to all elements.)

 > The reason that I wanted to comment on this was that I
 > had to go back and change several sections of my
 > websites from <span> to <div> in order to to get them
 > to render properly on IE. It's just one more of those
 > little things that make designing webpages so fun! :)

Maybe what you were trying to do was to display SPAN elements as
blocks of text (paragraphs), rather than as inline elements. Although
CSS indeed defines that that is possible, it requires structural
changes in the browsers that take some time to materialize.

Among the current browsers, MSIE 5 is one of the few that *can*
already handle such styles. NS 4.5's implementation is still somewhat

  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos/                              W3C/INRIA
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Tuesday, 20 July 1999 10:08:01 UTC

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