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Re: Conformance of DL Groups Missing DT or DD

From: Dr. Olaf Hoffmann <Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 10:42:41 +0100
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <200802271042.41879.Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de>

For historical reasons there are mainly to types of text -
poetry and prose. Prose can be seen as a degenerate 
descendant of poetry with less structure, therefore if
HTML5 defines prose content,
what it exactly means is defined in detail by the
naming already:

Therefore already the naming excludes most elements
in HTML5 currently for the usage for poetry.
Indeed, list elements provide already the correct 
structure for most types of poetry, song texts etc
as for many other applications, especially the dl is
quite useful, because there is no other element group
with the same structure sufficient for several applications.
It is the typical practice for HTML4 if you do not find an
element with sufficient structure and semantical meaning,
choose a closely related element to get the best what you
can get. Therefore in HTML4 clearly dl/dt or dl/dd is already
the best choice for most parts of poetry. As detailled in the
wiki the examples in the current HTML5 draft do not use
elements with a sufficient structure and are therefore bad
or poor examples to markup poetry.

> On Wed, 27 Feb 2008, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> > There are only 4 prose elements, according to HTML 5 section 3.9:
> >
> >    3.9 Prose.
> >    3.9.1 The p element.
> >    3.9.2 The hr element.
> >    3.9.3 The br element.
> >    3.9.4 The dialog element.
> Hm, that's an unintentional confusion. I've tried to fix this.
> > FIRSTLY: It seems you, throughout, are mistaking 'prose' for the 'prose
> > content' cathegory of HTML elements. Olaf's subject, however, was
> > 'prose' versus 'poetry'.
> >
> > SECONDLY: Focusing at Olaf's subject, I claim that the 'Prose' section
> > contains elements for the "prose use case", in the narrowest meaning of
> > that word.
> Ah. I see. I have attempted to fix that confusion by removing the word
> "prose" from that section title and merging some of the sections around
> there together.

Indeed, the naming of the heading is already much better ;o)

> >     1) Constrained rules for the <dl>, which fails to take into account
> > the real world use of the <dl> element for poetry mark-up. See Lachlan's
> > message [1]. (As mentioned by Olaf.)
> >     2) Simon Pieters' message from 5th of March 2007, which you
> > referenced and took note of [2], goes against the use of <dl> for poetry,
> > when it speaks against "<dd>...<dd>... instead of <dd><p>...<p>".
> Notwithstanding existing practice, using <dl> elements for poetry is
> blatently wrong and an abuse of the semantics of the <dl> element, both in
> HTML4, and in HTML5, even with HTML5's loosening of the rules.

No, see above, it is the best choice already in HTML4 - I'm not very happy
with this, because it does not cover all needs, but is anyway already 
useful with some additional help from CSS (if supported by the user-agent)
to provide a sufficient presentation of the content.

> > Had there been a poetry section - instead of only some poetry examples
> > here and there, then the spec would probably not have overlooked the
> > poetry usecase for <dl> and its "relaxed" use of unmatching <dt>-s and
> > <dd>-s.
> Poetry is no more important than stories, addresses, legal documents,
> letters, and any number of other document types, none of which have their
> own section either.

It is not more important, but it has a richer microstructure. Before it was
possible to write text, this additional structure was an important feature to
archive stories and information with aural presentation only. After it was
invented to write text somehow, the degenerate prose type with less 
structure came up as something almost completely different. However,
nevertheless poetry and songs survived somehow, even if some people 
do not really like them anymore ;o) 
Therefore it would be possible to derive any prose content from specific
poetry markup, but not the other way around.

As detailed in the wiki, dl could be improved to markup the microstructure
of poetry already and several other applications, partly related, partly 
completely different, as mentioned by Leif Halvard Silli.
The current restrictions on dl/dt/dd exclude all this in HTML5, what is
already possible as crutch in HTML4 to get approximately some useful
behaviour. For all these applications currently I would recommend authors
simply not to care about HTML5, because is has no elements with a
sufficient structure and semantical meaning for such a purpose. 
Received on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 10:06:50 UTC

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