Re: Proposed Design Principles updated

On Apr 3, 2007, at 10:48 AM, Murray Maloney wrote:

> With the advent of markup technologies, we have been able to  
> separate the presentation
> from the content. That's not to say that <b> is bad. It's just that  
> the meaning of <b> is
> subject to interpretation. TV Raman and I can both read a text that  
> is marked up with <b>
> and our presentation engines aren't REQUIRED to present anything in  
> bold at all.
> That is, the presentation is actually separate from the content. I  
> can write style sheets
> to ignore <b> and <i>.

I don't think anyone intends to remove <b> and <i> (that would wildly  
break compatibility). But the bias would be against adding new  
presentational elements. Note that it's possible to go a lot more  
presentational than <b> and <i>. We could be using XSL-FO or SVG or  
an XML serialization of PDF. But that's clearly not what HTML is  
about. HTML is about a pragmatic balance.

> To understand my position you have to realize that I am a technical  
> writer by trade.
> I have experience with typesetting, printing, publishing, and  
> software development.
> I have also been involved a more than a few technical working  
> groups over the years.
> I have debated all of these issues countless times. It's not that I  
> don't see your POV.

I'm not sure you understand the position expressed by the design  
principle (which was not added to the document by me by the way, at  
least two people edited it before I got to it). It doesn't say that  
presentational markup is forbidden, just that semantic markup is  

> What I am saying is that the pendulum seems to have swung too far  
> the other way.
> There is nothing wrong with having elements which convey the author/ 
> publisher's
> intent to achieve a certain appearance. In fact, I think that we  
> should complete the
> set once and for all so that people who prefer to use HTML as a  
> delivery format
> will be in a better position to stop abusing semantic elements.  
> Perhaps in time,
> they too will learn the advantages inherent in employing semantic  
> markup.

Just to be clear on your stance -- what new presentational elements  
do you think are needed?

> As I see it, the XHTML2 effort went overboard.

This group will almost certainly not take the XHTML2 approach.

> Recent suggestions that an image can stand in for a paragraph is an  
> example of
> not separating presentation from content. That is the kind of thing  
> I would like
> to see us avoid.
> I am hoping that you are closer to seeing my point of view.

I'm not sure I understand it. You think elements like <b>, although  
presentational, still separate presentation from content. But  
according to you, a paragraph displayed as an image does not --  
although that effect could be achieved purely through styling using  
the proposed CSS3 content property, without affecting the markup.

The actual mechanism for separating presentation from content in HTML  
is that presentation is controlled by a CSS stylesheet, but you seem  
to mean something other than that (unless I misunderstand).

Could you please clarify with a few examples what you do or do not  
consider separated presentation and content? Would XSL-FO qualify  
(even if styled with CSS)? How about SVG (optionally styled with CSS)?


Received on Tuesday, 3 April 2007 19:36:35 UTC