W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-digipub-ig@w3.org > February 2015

Re: footnote element in HTML

From: Liam R E Quin <liam@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2015 19:14:53 -0500
To: Robert Sanderson <azaroth42@gmail.com>
Cc: "Siegman, Tzviya - Hoboken" <tsiegman@wiley.com>, "DPUB mailing list (public-digipub-ig@w3.org)" <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, David MacDonald <david100@sympatico.ca>
Message-ID: <20150209191453.46e167cb.liam@w3.org>
On Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:15:24 -0800
Robert Sanderson <azaroth42@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Liam,
> 
> I'm sorry that you find the annotation spec FPWD very complex.  Any
> feedback as to the nature of that complexity would be greatly appreciated
> so we can assess how to address it in future versions.

On my first reading I actually got lost at "All Annotations MUST be instances of the class oa:Annotation" :D (where "oa:annotation" was not a link to anything and the term "class" was not defined)

> While we're addressing requirements, how about:
> 
> * Ability to mark a section of text as the anchor, rather than just a
> marker at a single point.

I don't understand this in relation to footnotes.

I do understand it for e.g. the target of an index entry, or for more general (or more complex) annotations.


> * Ability to have a footnote refer to multiple sections of the text, rather
> than only one.

The text refers to footnotes; I did mention a single footnote being referred to from multiple places, though, as something I'm aware of being needed in publishing. You see this a lot in things like table footnotes in aircraft repair manuals.

> * Ability to provide alternate representations of the footnote comment,
> rather than just language translations (for example audience, reading age,
> authorization, etc are all issues here)

Yes, agree that's reasonable.

> * The ability to refer to the footnote itself, for example to (you know)
> comment on it.

We have CSS selectors that can match footnote elements, and we have XPath...

> * The ability to create footnotes with reference to non text, including
> bounding boxes in image based media.

I'm not sure I understand this either -- I think that would be a callout, and I agree we should be able to do them (good old SoftQuad Panorama supported annotations on user-defined regions of images back in the early 1990s, for SGML documents)


> * Footnote content as media (image, audio, video) rather than plain text
Agree that you should be able to have arbitrary content.

> * Ability to provide style information regarding the anchor rendering, for
> example to ensure that a highlight color does not collide with the color of
> the background, or the bounding box color does not collide with the color
> of the image.

I think you're asking for two separate things here.

A document designer has the responsibility to make sure that text is readable on a given background in general, and that would apply to footnote markers such as dagger/obelisk/star, numbers, etc.

Callouts from graphics or video are different since the content and hence background colour might not be known in advance; I seem to remember for Panorama we used a double line, one black and one white, to draw the shape, but it's been 20 years...

> * Machine readable provenance information regarding the creator of the
> footnote, separate from the document.

Why do you want to require that it be separate from the document? I would hope an author can include footnotes in a document.

A footnote (as opposed to an annotation) is conceptually part of a document. (I think of an annotation as primarily something added later, describing something, even though from a technologist point of view they may be the same "underneath")

I agree about tracking provenance of annotations, and in a social world one obviously needs privacy/sharing and security potentially on every fact, inseparably. But it'd be awfully onerous to have to mark each footnote individually with who wrote it when it's usually the same author for all of them... (or an editor for 2nd level footnotes, usually indicated by a different numbering scheme in print today).

> * Ability to control the presentation of the footnote with javascript
> and/or user-agent preferences.

I think you get the first part of that for free with a footnote element in the document; researching and writing up good ideas for presentation and user agent preferences sounds like it would be very productive. Click-to-go-to-separate-footnote-document is about the worst interface that I've seen in widespread use.

> Perhaps those aren't all requirements for the simple translation from print
> footnotes to a digital facsimile but haven't we gotten past that by now?

I don't know, wasn't able to be on the call today (following a CSS F2F in Australia) but part of my own interest is being able to produce printed books with Web technologies, as well as translating into digital online formats.  I'm not interested in a screen-based facsimile as such. But I do want to be able to run queries on the content of footnotes, and I don't think footnotes are a bad thing, nor that they should be subsumed into annotations, just because they're not well-supported in today's Web browsers. We should rather work towards improving the support, of course.

I'm actually fairly excited about web annotations by the way, in case it's not clear :-) - I just perceive them as something different from footnotes.

-- 
Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Received on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 00:14:58 UTC

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