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Re: ISSUE-128 (figure-in-p): Chairs Solicit Proposals

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2010 19:12:52 +0000 (UTC)
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.1010071900390.12587@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>
On Thu, 7 Oct 2010, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> On Oct 7, 2010, at 11:12 AM, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > On Thu, 7 Oct 2010, Karl Dubost wrote:
> >> Le 5 oct. 2010 à 12:30, Ian Hickson a écrit :
> >>> What people do _not_ do with figures is put them in the middle of 
> >>> sentences.
> >> 
> >> What about Sparklines? 
> >> http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001OR&topic_id=1
> > 
> > All of the figures on those pages are either between paragraphs or 
> > floated (in the latter case the exact position in the markup can't be 
> > guessed, but there's no reason to put such figures in the middle of a 
> > sentence either; doing so makes it harder to maintain).
> > 
> > There are a number of inline images on those pages, but those would be 
> > equivalent to just <img> with alternative text, IMHO, not <figure>.
> There are examples in that text that have sparklines in a paragraph, 
> though coincidentally not ones that also have a caption. Let's imagine 
> the glucose sparkline from the first page was included inline in a 
> paragraph, including its caption of "glucose 128". <img> with 
> alternative text does not capture the semantic association between the 
> caption and the associated illustration. Why would <figure> be 
> semantically wrong?

The "glucose 128" part of that sparkline is clearly not a figure caption; 
it's part of the data, in the same sense that a table heading cell is not 
a table caption but is part of the table, or the same sense that a chart's 
key is not the chart's title.

This is especially clear in this example as the "glucose 128" case is 
expanded upon by Tufte starting from an image that consists of only the 
text "glucose 128": if that is a figure caption, what is it captioning? 
This construct is then built up from the initial image to a compound image 
with mutliple sparklines, the whole of which is presented as a single 

The examples of inline sparklines demonstrate this even further, as they 
make their images a core part of their sentence. For example, consider the 
financial sparkline case:

   [...] This financial sparkline o-'''--__.-''''*--o is 5 to 1; the [...]

If shown independent of the paragraph one could imagine "Financial 
sparkline" being the caption, but clearly when used inline it has no 
caption, and it would make no sense to add one.

I think this is quite consistent with the specification's definition of 
<figure> as "flow content, optionally with a caption, that is 
self-contained and is typically referenced as a single unit from the main 
flow of the document". There is no reason to also make <figure> apply to 
inline images, since those are already adequately handled by <img> and 
would not be catered any better by using more verbose markup.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 7 October 2010 19:13:20 UTC

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