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Re: Are there W3C definitions of presentation and content?

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 17 Sep 2005 10:18:41 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200509170918.j8H9If801221@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

Emrah wrote:
> On Sat, 17 Sep 2005 02:39:35 +0300, Bert Bos <bert@w3.org> wrote:
> > For me, separation of content and presentation isn't an axiom. It is
> > one of the possible ways to achieve the real goal of the Web: easy
> > access to information (and to communication). In other words,

Unfortunately, whilst that is probably the real goal of the web as
defined by Tim Berners Lee, the real goal of the web as defined by
the mass media is to make money by selling products, advertising space
or the company on the stock market.  Communicating information is
a low priority in all of these, and is often counterproductive.
(Most people don't understand that the word web refers to the links
between documents.)

> Would I be mistaken if I say that the aim of CSS is not the ultimate  
> seperation of style and structure (While I wish for it.). This simply is  
> not possible when the element order in the structure is vital for the  
> layout on an html page. However, it should be fairly easy for an editor  

I think you mean "web page" in the mass media sense.  The original pupose
of HTML was for writing certain sorts of web resource that had a high
web content, i.e. referenced other web resources, and were, themselves,
primarily textual documents.  That sort of web resource never had the
standard frame type structure that you are thinking about and what people
think of as a "web page".  "web pages" are sufficiently far from the
design aims of HTML that, if you really want to send all the site level
navigation with every detail page, they do need a new markup language.

As I've said before, a real web approach to this would use links to
site level and branding resources, not try and embed them in every
page.  (This won't work now because it gives the browser and therefore
the user too much control of the presentation for the people who
commission web pages to accept.)

Wikipedia and some academic pages (those written by the academic themself,
rather than by the university's PR or alumni funding office) are, in my
view, examples of the intended use of HTML.

> and author to assume, in a later time, that a certain chapter should  
> appear before anything else in the book, and that modification is done  
> fairly easily, if that portion is marked up well in a separate chapter  
> (and for html, in an element with an ID)

The example is bad, because people do not put book chapters in random
orders.  The real problem is that they try to put the whole of the
rest of the publishers catalogue at the front of the web page (whereas
in paper books, there might, at most, be a page of recent similar 
publications at the very end).

> Yes, we have xsl and everybody should learn it?

Firstly, one of the most important constraints on CSS is that it
ought to be relatively human friendly.  That limits its power to 
some extent.

However, what's really needed is for people to learn how to structure
documents well and to use appropriate tools for the job.  If what's 
written really doesn't matter much and it is the appearence that matters,
a final form graphics language is what should be used, not a text
document markup language.

Typically "web design" is taught in art college not as a writing
related subject, but HTML is a writer's tool, not a commercial

For "web pages" appearing different from the competitor is always going
to be important, so you are never going to get total uniformity in
structure.  Final form graphic presentation gives you the ability to
do that.  The problem for CSS is to encourage the authors to provide
as much structure as they are ever going to be willing to give, whilst
accepting that marketing people either don't think in terms of structure,
or think it terms of it, but don't want the viewer to understand how
they really think.
Received on Sunday, 18 September 2005 08:30:04 UTC

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