Re: (marks, definitions, terms, abbreviations, and variables <m>, <dfn>, <abbr>, <term>) part of my review of 3.12 Phrase elements

Robert Burns writes:

> Defining terms, abbreviations and
>     variable (DFN, ABBR, VAR) for the current draft:
> ----------------------------------
> Consider changing the current draft for DFN to:
> proposed new language/
> Defining term:
> A) If the dfn element has a title attribute, then the exact value of
> that attribute is the term being defined. If the author includes a
> value for the title attribute to indicate the term, the element must
> be empty. [otherwise, we should specify what precisely the meaning of
> the enclosed text is]

I do not think it must be empty; I think the content, like the content
of nearly all elements in HTML, should be what the author wishes to
display to the user.  This could be used where the structure of a
sentence means that the term being defined is being used in its
non-canonical form.  For example:

  The departmental <dfn title="poet">poets</dfn> are the people who ...


  <dfn title="frobincate">Frobnicating</dfn> is the process of ...

I'm also wondering if it could be used when the content is presented
with an image or something:

  <dfn title="The Artist Formerly Known as Prince">
    <img src="squiggle.png" alt="The Artist Formerly Know as Prince">
  </dfn> is a famous ...

> Consider changing the first (only) example to:
> In the following fragment, the term "GDO" is first defined in the
> first paragraph, then used in the second. A compliant UA must provide
> a mechanism to present the definition ...

What's your justification for changing the requirement to "must" there?
An author marking up the text in this way enables a user-agent to choose
to provide such an interface, but does it make sense to force all user-
agents to implement such?  Is it indeed appropriate for all types of

An interface like this is only a convenience for a reader; since the
contents of <dfn> elements are displayed distinctively, it's still
possible for a reader to scroll to and read the relevant definition
without any extra assistance from the browser.  Can't we let browser
creators decide on the appropriate level of convenience for their

(Though if we do decide this is a "must", then its "must"-iness needs
defining in a normative part of the text, not merely in an example; I
think changing the "should" in the paragraph preceding the example would
achieve this.)

> ... from the immediately next surrounding structural-inline ancestor
> or block ancestor of the dfn element, whichever occurs first.

That would contradict what the normative text say is the definition of
the term: "the paragraph, description list group, or section that
contains the dfn element".

> Consider providing examples for the other two state/cases mentioned
> <p>A <dfn>fundamental class process</dfn> is a process of performing
> and appropriating surplus labor. It occurs at the point of production
> between a performer of surplus labor and the appropriator of that
> surplus labor.</p>
> <!-- ... later in the document: -->
> <p>… The <span title='fundamental class process' >fundamental class
> process</span> is therefore a condition of existence for the subsumed
> class process. …</p>
> <p>A <dfn>class</dfn> is a a factory for objects. It defines all of
> the methods for accessing the instance variable data for an object as
> well as defining the constructor that stamps out new instances of the
> object. represented by this class.  .</p>
> <!-- ... later in the document: -->
> <p>For a <span title='class' >class</span> to be highly reusable,
> developers should focus their attention on opportunities for
> polymorphism.</p>

I don't object to more examples, but it seems to be that those two
examples demonstrate exactly the same construct and sage as each other.

Also, in neither of those cases do the <span> elements need those title
attributes; since the title is merely repeating the textContent, it can
be ommitted and the textContent will be used instead.

> The VAR element makes mention of special meaning to @title when used
> with DFN but nothing else is said about that here.

Yes there is: the paragraph between the note and the example starts:

  The dfn element enables automatic cross-references.  Specifically, any
  span, abbr, code, var, samp, or i element that ...

> An example and explanation would be helpful. (is this meant to match
> the @title of the defining dfn element for the variable?).

Exactly the same as with <span>.


Received on Thursday, 26 July 2007 21:03:27 UTC