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[whatwg] Deprecating <small> , <b> ?

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 16:28:17 +0000
Message-ID: <20081117162816.GE14280@stripey.com>
Pentasis writes:

> > In printed material users are typically given no out-of-band
> > information about the semantics of the typesetting.  However,
> > smaller things are less noticeable, and it's generally accepted that
> > the author of the document wishes the reader to pay less attention
> > to them than more prominent things.
> > 
> > That works fine with <small>.  User-agents which can't literally
> > render smaller fonts can choose alternative mechanisms for denoting
> > lower importance to users.
> > 
> > There's no chance of doing this with <span class="legalese"> or
> > similar, since user-agents are unaware of the semantic they should
> > be conveying.
> > 
> > > 3) <small> is a styling element, it has zero semantic meaning, so
> > > it does not belong inside HTML.
> > 
> > Denoting particular text as being of lessor importance is quite
> > different from choosing the overall base font size (or indeed
> > typeface) for the page, or the colour of links or headings -- that's
> > merely expressing a preference for how graphical user-agents should
> > render particular semantics, but the semantics themselves are
> > conveyed to _all_ user-agents (<a> , <h3> , etc).
> > 
> > > 4) <b> Siemens</b> also does not tell me anything about the
> > > semantics.  Is it used as a name, a brand a foreign word ? etc. I
> > > cannot get that information from looking at the <b> element.
> > 
> > Indeed you can't.  And nor can you if you were reading printed text
> > with some words in bold.  However, you would appreciate that the
> > author had wished for some particular words to stand out from the
> > surrounding text.  Perhaps you then notice it's being done for all
> > brand names?  Or that the emboldened words spell out a secret
> > message?
> > 
> > However, you can only notice this if the words have been
> > distinguished in some way.  With <b>, all user-agents can choose to
> > convey to users that those words are special.
> 
> You cannot make a 100% comparison between printed and web-published
> styling and semantics. Apart from the "obvious" visual difference, we
> are talking about the ability here to convey semantics other than just
> visual.

Indeed.

> For example to aid machine-readability but far more importantly,
> Assistive Technologies.  If markup in web-publishing was meant to be
> just for visual feedback, we would only need 1 block and one inline
> element as we can do anything with just classes and CSS in that
> respect.

But that would be using a styling technology (and an optional one at
that) for conveying meaning.

Anybody without the CSS -- or with a non-graphical user-agent, which
can't render the CSS rules to the user -- will be missing out.  Such
users wouldn't be able to distinguish <span class="legalese"> or even
<span class="secret_message"> from the surrounding text.

Whereas if <small> or <b> are used, all user-agents can do _something_
with them.

So I completely agree with what you say.

Smylers
Received on Monday, 17 November 2008 08:28:17 UTC

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