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Re: [html] Semantics of "aside", "header", and "footer"

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 18:12:52 -0500
Message-Id: <6213AE72-F244-4A37-AC95-7B4C66D023B9@robburns.com>
Cc: Jens Meiert <jens.meiert@erde3.com>, public-html@w3.org
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>

Hi Maciej,

On Sep 6, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> On Sep 6, 2007, at 10:03 AM, Jens Meiert wrote:
>> (Apologies for recent WG discussion and collaboration absence; I  
>> moved.)
>> I need to bring up the "aside" [1], "header" [2], and "footer" [3]  
>> elements again, no matter that they've been discussed a few times  
>> yet. I'm still not convinced that their names are very appropriate  
>> as they seem to be too "presentational" and almost meaningless.
> I disagree that they are presentational. Headers, footers and  
> asides are identifiable parts of web documents and indeed non-web  
> documents just as much as paragraphs and sections are. Furthermore,  
> it is hard to see how they are any more presentational than  
> <tfoot>, <thead>, <h1> or <th>.

I agree with you about aside marking an identifiable part of a web  
document. Headers and footer less so.

The aside element definitely marks-up a particular portion or  
portions of a document that have particular meaning beyond  
presentation. Typically however, I think those portions of a document  
are often reserved for web pages: i.e., the on-screen or particularly  
a web-site type of document. In this sense the 'real' document in the  
'section' or 'article' elements is embedded along with 'aside' in a  
larger document.

Similarly 'header' and 'footer' are  embedded in a larger document  
along with the article, and asides. And there I think the comparison  
to the table elements thead and tfoot are apt. In both cases we have  
semantic constructs that are tied very closely to their  
presentational idioms. In the web-site case, the header portion of a  
web page contains particular bits of information displayed a the top  
of the web page. This is no different than the particular types of  
information that get displayed at the top of a table.

However, I think with the 'h1''h6' elements and the 'th' element, we  
have a different situation from thead, tfroot, header (as  
traditionally understood) and footer.. These are elements that markup  
metadata, specifically headings, that are independent of their  

HTML may need both types of semantics: presentational semantics and .  
However, we should try to keep the distinctions clear as the creators  
of the HTML5 specification.

Take care,
Received on Thursday, 6 September 2007 23:13:06 UTC

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