W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > June 2008

Re: Liaison with CSS WG to provide a mechanism for expressing the style of document semantics

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2008 11:56:23 +0000
Cc: "'HTML Issue Tracking WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <559E22E2-66E5-418F-BB65-3C6CBC12EEFB@robburns.com>
To: "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com>

HI Justin,

On Jun 1, 2008, at 7:09 PM, Justin James wrote:

> Robert -
> I do not currently have any questions about the proposal, but I am  
> beginning
> to suspect that I do not understand its purpose. If I have an unclear
> understanding of it, then I have either read it so wrong that I  
> think I
> understand it, or it does not convey its purpose properly.

I'm pretty sure you don't understand it. But I'd like to work on it  
through email and the wiki page to see what I can do so others don't  
have the same misreading.

> I will say this, the more I read this proposal, the more it looks  
> like an
> attempt to compensate for the lack of granularity of @alt, or  
> provide an
> alternative to @alt.

No, it has nothing to do with @alt.

> Let me rephrase my thoughts, sans examples which are clearly making  
> my point
> not clear.
> Content does not belong in a stylesheet (or any kind of style  
> definition).
> "Legend" is content. It does not belong in a style definition. The  
> use case
> provided on the wiki does not make a strong argument for this  
> solution to
> the problem, and the example you cite below (repetitive items  
> require the
> same legend) is not realistic; anyone generating that much repetitive
> content is not writing static HTML by hand, and making new ways of  
> cutting
> down the document size of HTML is not one of our goals as far as I  
> know
> (that's why there is HTTP level compression).

Part of the confusion here is over what is content? Yes, this proposal  
can be thought of as involving content in a sense (after all it uses  
the CSS content property). However, I don't think it is content in the  
sense you're reading it. I think that is contributing to us talking  
past one another.

Keep in mind this is about bridging the semantics of the HTML document  
with the presentation of the CSS document. So the proposed "legend"  
property might be construed as semantic content (in some sense, but  
not in the sense I think you're thinking of it). While on the other  
hand, the "legend-presentation" property involves non-semantic  
content: instead it describes the visual aural or tactile presentation  

The use of such presentations legends is necessarily repetitive.  
Consider the extreme example of a default UA stylesheet.

@media screen {
strong {
                 legend: "strong emphasis";
                 legend-presentation: "italic";
                	font-style: italic;

@media speech {
strong {
                 legend: "strong emphasis";
                 legend-presentation: "increased stress and richness";
	        pitch: medium;
                 pitch-range: 60;
                 stress: 90;
                 richness: 90


This legend would be used millions or billions of times across pages  
around the World. This legend would be used on pages, many of which  
are hand-coded. Authors of HTML documents could also add their own CSS  
content property usage to include the print media legend in a printed  
document. Or fine-tune this in other ways. The point is that this is  
the type of content that is ripe for reuse, and is already widely  
reused (at least the CSS declarations are reused without legends).

Also to contrast things a bit, the following CSS declaration would  
certainly not include a legend:

body {
	font-family: Georgia, "Times New Roman", Times, serif;

In this case the CSS is purely presentations. It conveys no meaning to  
the user that the body uses a serif font.

I hope this helps clarify things. Perhaps this dialog will help make  
it clearer for others.

Take care,
Received on Monday, 2 June 2008 11:57:02 UTC

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