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Re: HTML is a declarative mark-up language

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 20:51:42 +0100
Message-ID: <498208CE.6030603@malform.no>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Lachlan Hunt 2009-01-29 12.42:
> Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
>> Ian Hickson 2009-01-29 03.12:
>>> On Wed, 28 Jan 2009, Roy T. Fielding wrote:
>>>> If I ask a simple question, like:
>>>>    what does the name attribute on the "a" (anchor) element mean?
>>     [...]
>>>> there is apparently no "name" attribute for <a> and, further, that <a>
>>>> doesn't even mean anchor any more.  Brilliant.
>>> It represents a hyperlink; is that no the same thing?
>> "Little Webmaster, here is a little spoon for you. Open up, and take 
>> it in: HTML 5 was a fresh start from scratch. We did not look at HTML 
>> 4, and you shouldn't either."
>> What the "a" element means is not attemted explained in the HTML 5 
>> draft.  Wheras HTML 4 talks about "destination anchor" and "source 
>> anchor" - it incorporates the meaning of the element name when it 
>> talks about it.
> Yes it is.  As Hixie said, 
> There we see it's defined as a *hyperlink* or a *placeholder for a 
> link*.  And from an  authors perspective, I'm sure it's easier to 
> understand what a link is than it is to understand the more abstract 
> concept of an "anchor".

To "have one's feet firmly on the ground" is perhaps also a most 
abstract concept then, if "anchor" is?

What I talked about was the meaning of the "a" in the anchor 
element. Neither 'hyperlink' or 'placeholder' links back to the 
"a" in anchor element name.

I cannot provide documentation that shows that it is meaningfull 
if authors are able to  see that the <em> element has that name 
because it is a shortening for "emphasize". But somehow, it is 
part of the Mark-Up language tradition that the element names have 
telling names. So at leaste it is not my sole opinion.

[ snip ]

> Here it is clearly stated that the href attribute gives the *destination 
> resource of the hyperlink*.  How is that difficult to understand?

Again, no use of anchor. Anchor is a metaphor. HTML 4 makes clear 
why it uses that metaphor. It invites to understand what the "a" 
stands for. But if you prefer that people look in HTML 4 to 
understand that, then fine.

> Looking at some HTML 4 tutorials and references, 

   [ snip ]

>    -- http://htmlhelp.org/reference/html40/special/a.html

Why should we discuss htmlhelp.org or w3schools.com etcetera here?

>   "Links are defined with the <a> tag."
>   -- http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Guide/

Again, no reference to HTML 4.

> So, we can see that referring to the a element as a link or hyperlink, 
> or similar is relatively common.  In fact, the term anchor isn't even 
> used on those last two pages.  Therefore, it makes sense to use a common 
> term that more accurately describes it's function, namely linking, than 
> to stick with the alternative, anchor, just because it's the historical 
> reason for it being called the "a" element.

It is not only for historical reasons I want "anchor" to be used - 
in fact, that was least on my mind -  but for authors to 
understand HTML.

The anchor is used as symbol for the insertion of anchor elements 
and also for id attributes HTML editing tools. So the idea is by 
no means so forgotten as you try to convince us. It is must easier 
to illustrate something as an anchor than to illustrate it as some 
of the - in truth - more abstract words you picked from Ian and 
the draft.

HTML 4 uses 'hyperlink' only once on its "Links" page [1]. It 
makes a direct link (sic) between link and hyperlink. Link is used 
152 times on that page. Anchor is used 89 times. And it uses those 
terms in a very readable and helpful way. It weaves link and 
anchor together.

The anchor element is called an anchor element because it only 
represents one end - (today) usually (only) the source anchor of 
and link. If there is no destination anchor, then we do in fact 
not have any link.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/links.html
leif halvard silli
Received on Thursday, 29 January 2009 19:52:23 UTC

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