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Re: XBL is (mostly) W3C redundant, and CSS is wrong W3C layer for semantic behavior *markup

From: John Lewis <lewi0371@mrs.umn.edu>
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 05:26:10 -0600
Message-ID: <6372082156.20030105052610@cda.mrs.umn.edu>
To: www-style@w3.org

Shelby, you didn't respond to the meat of the argument: You're talking
about HTML's semantics as defined by humans and I'm talking about
HTML's semantics as defined by the HTML specification. You haven't
changed my mind yet, but that may be because you didn't respond to
what I wrote.

The ability of CSS to change the meaning of a document to a human is
unrelated to the ability to change the meaning of a document as
defined by HTML. CSS can do the first, but it cannot do the second.
Until you provide an example proving otherwise, I don't believe CSS or
XBL is harmful for the first ability; in fact, the ability to augment
the meaning of a document to a human is part of the reason CSS and (I
assume) XBL exist. Likewise, you haven't proven that CSS or XBL has
the second ability, so I cannot condemn them for that.

Shelby wrote on Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 12:19:44 PM:

> At 12:41 AM 1/4/2003 -0600, John Lewis wrote:
>> I agree, and here's why:
>>
>> There are at least two types of semantics: those defined by HTML
>> and those defined by authors and readers (i.e., humans). In a
>> variety of ways, CSS can change the meaning of a document--but only
>> to a human. No property in CSS affects the HTML specification;
>> although I'm not familiar with XBL, I've seen no proof that XBL can
>> change the definition of HTML elements either. It's like someone
>> manually typing an undefined element into a text editor; the
>> element has no meaning in HTML, even though it may have meaning to
>> the author.
>>
>> Shelby, I assume you disagree with me; can you change my mind? (Or
>> have I changed yours?)

> Axiomatic Proof:

> 1. Specification defines the meaning of HTML,

True.

> 2. Thus any deviations which are not allowed by the specification,
> would be changing the semantics as defined by the specification.

No, deviations not allowed by the specification make the document
*invalid* or the UA *in error*. HTML remains constant. I agree it
could well change the semantics of HTML to authors (see below for an
example), but not the semantics of HTML as defined by HTML.

> 3. XBL can most certainly change the implementation of HTML tags to
> some thing which disagrees with specification

Assuming for a minute this is true, which no one has proved: So can
CSS. How is that any different than XBL except in degree of change? (I
can write a CSS style sheet to change the meaning of an HTML document
to a human, if you'd like an example.)

By your definition, Internet Explorer for Windows has changed the HTML
specification. I agree that IE/Win does things wrong, but we call
those "bugs" or "errors"--we don't say that HTML has changed. Even if,
for example, everyone starts using acronym elements instead of abbr
elements, that doesn't change the meaning of acronym as defined by
HTML. When writing HTML, the W3C is under no obligation to codify
current practices; although they are free to.

-- 
John
Received on Sunday, 5 January 2003 06:26:27 GMT

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