[whatwg] <blockquote cite> and <q cite>

Anne van Kesteren wrote:
> I saw a recent draft introduced semantics for <blockquote> being followed  
> or preceded by a <p> which contains <cite> and for <q> which is inside a  
> paragraph which also contains a <cite>. Perhaps this <cite> element can  
> contain a single element <a> which contains the source of the quote?

How would a given <cite> be unambiguously associated with its quotation
element? We could add a for attribute to <cite>, but that would
complicate the creation of quotations in user-generated content since
content management systems would have to process id's they hadn't
created. That isn't an insurmountable obstacle, but it's worth thinking

Anne van Kesteren continued:
> So we can drop the unsupported cite="" attribute from both <blockquote>  
> and <q> or at least provide a way to have visual metadata. (I'm aware  
> cite="" is exposed in some way in some user agents, but that's not really  
> usable in any way...)

I catalogued the current implementations of the cite attribute at:


The reasons why cite is poorly supported are:

1) <q> is poorly supported and widely misunderstood.

2) <blockquote> was widely misused.

3) The original specifications for cite didn't require UAs to expose
cite to end-users. If a spec doesn't require something it's unlikely to
be implemented.

4) The original specifications for cite provided no examples of possible
implementations. When faced with HTML4's specification for cite, browser
developers scratch their heads and wonder how they're supposed to
implement it.

5) The original specification for cite did not suggest ways of resolving
the potential conflict between cite and href involved in markup like:

<a href="foobar.html"><q cite="baz.html">bla bla bla</q></a>

and like:

<q cite="baz.html">rhubarb<a href="foobar.html">bla bla</a>rhubarb</q>

(As a result, Amaya's implementation fouls this up.)

If cite were better specified, there would be more and better
implementations. Subsequent to my discussions with an ELinks developer
about how they might implement the cite attribute, there is now a patch:


It hasn't yet been moved until the main source tree, because the
developer in question is a bit worried about possible conflicts with
table and CSS display (this provides yet more evidence for Point 4
above). He intends to discuss it further with fellow developers.

Also as of today, I have now packaged up my own crude implementation of
the cite attribute in the form of a Firefox extension which (I hope)
makes cite /much/ easier to use. Its homepage is at:


More features will be forthcoming as time allows (i.e. slowly). Feel
free to bug me with feature requests, but check the todo list first.

There is a bug issue for implementing cite in WebKit:


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

Received on Sunday, 31 December 2006 06:47:26 UTC