Re: MostlySemanticMarkup

On Mar 28, 2007, at 04:09, Murray Maloney wrote:

> Since then, a lot of people, SGML, HTML, XML and otherwise, have  
> taken up this idea
> as if it were a religious tenet. It's time to get over yourselves.  
> Sometimes you just want to
> say that "this text" should be emphasized, preferably as bold or  
> italic or red or blue.

Exactly. Here's what I was thinking when contributing to the principle:

Semanticists tend to frown upon <i>, because they see italics as  
presentation and not as semantics. However, italics are more tightly  
coupled with the content that e.g. the choice of font family. In that  
sense, italics are closer to being part of the content. Moreover,  
most people tend to hit ctrl-i or command-i to italicize a run of  
text instead of wanting to make explicit why they did so (even if  
they are following a guideline from a style guide that says what to  

This works great for visual media when italics are available:  
continuous bitmapped screen display, projection and print. On a tty,  
you need to e.g. invert the colors instead, but it isn't probably too  
controversial to suggest that it would be silly to banish italics as  
the primary presentation because ttys don't have italics.

Now, obviously, aural and tactile media do not have italics. However,  
the reality is that most authors author primarily for the visual  
media and understand only it. It has been pointed out on this list  
that AT vendors ignore aural CSS because authors in general are too  
clueless to use it in a useful way. (I don't pretend to be able to  
write genuinely useful aural style sheets myself, either.) Perfection  
may not be attainable and satisficing should be considered instead.

Without having experience with using aural or tactile UAs, I am  
inclined to believe that having an aural or tactile alias for italics  
as the default rendering (e.g. a particular tone of voice for runs of  
text that what would be rendered in italics on the visual media)  
would yield a better net result than trying to badger authors into  
being more semantic or having them dabble with aural parameters whose  
practical user experience effects they don't understand.

If the default presentation of <i> is defined to a satisficing degree  
for different media, media-independence has been achieved, but the  
result is not semantic markup. And it doesn't need to be semantic for  
the sake of semantics themselves.

See also: 

Henri Sivonen

Received on Wednesday, 28 March 2007 09:17:13 UTC