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

From: Calogero Alex Baldacchino <alex.baldacchino@email.it>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 23:48:22 +0100
Message-ID: <492DD236.2020104@email.it>
Tab Atkins Jr. ha scritto:
> On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 3:08 PM, Calogero Alex Baldacchino 
> <alex.baldacchino at email.it <mailto:alex.baldacchino at email.it>> wrote:
> 
>     Tab Atkins Jr. ha scritto:
> 
> 
> 
>         On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM, Calogero Alex Baldacchino
>         <alex.baldacchino at email.it <mailto:alex.baldacchino at email.it>
>         <mailto:alex.baldacchino at email.it
>         <mailto:alex.baldacchino at email.it>>> wrote:
> 



> 
> 
> Do you mean that if you had markup like "<p><b>W</b>hen I was 
> young...</p>", it would be read out as "I was young..."?  If so, that's 
> clearly a bug in the reader, and has nothing to do with semantics or the 
> lack of it.  There is *no* legitimate interpretation of that markup that 
> would lead one to discard the first word.
>  

I agree that a reading software unable to understand some text with 
unexpected typographic variants, should read it as normal text; however, 
  I guess how the above can result in an unexpected situation, when 
looking for non-typographic semantics.


> 
> Basically, there is a subset of authors who are morons, and they'll 
> screw up anything we do.  Most of us aren't like that, but trying to 
> design around that subset is a game you can't win.  Their pages will be 
> FUBAR no matter what we do, until browsers' rendering engines are 
> literally hooked up to a sentient semantic parser.

Arghh!! Such a software would be too smart and dominate the world... 
That could think, "morons are bothering; human beings generate morons; 
no more human beings means no more bother for me"!!!!

>  
> 
>     Ah, the default style could be slightly or very different from the
>     <small> one, i.e. the text could be surrounded by parenthesis or
>     hyphens, despite of the font size (and the new elements could be
>     designed such to accept just non-empty strings consisting of more
>     than one non-spacing character).
> 
> 
> We could, but is there any reason to have it do that?  Making the text 
> small is a good visual representation of the "small print" or "aside" 
> semantics.
> 

The concept was (or could be - let me modify it), the more we provide 
alternative visual representations of the "aside semantic element", the 
more likely a "moron designer" will stay far from it, since he could be 
confused about the style he's creating. As well, the rule "there is no 
default style for the element" could prevent authoring tools from just 
changing the name of a button used to style some text. But I know, all 
would fail because most popular browser would choose very similar 
rendering (or would they just follow rendering small fonts).

Anyway, I wouldn't underestimate the latter characteristic (ok, that 
wasn't clear), that is establishing the use of the element is legal if 
it sorrunds a piece of text made up of one or more whole words (or at 
least one readable character) and if it's bounded by spacing or 
punctuation characters (that is, the 'semantic element' cannot be a part 
of a word). Of course, the misuse concern would just move from the 
messed-up word to a messed-up sentence, but at least, in this case, an 
assistive reader would be less likely fouled up and, without any need 
for luck, it could speak out something funny, yet understandable. Of 
course the same could be done redefining <b> and <small> parsing rules, 
but such would result in a break with a bounch of (possible) legacy 
uses, and if we had to break somehow with the past, why don't have a 
look for some more significant names? - Just to say, not hoping to 
persuade you :-P


>     Here it is me not understanding. I think that any reason to offset
>     some text from the surrounding one can be reduced to the different
>     grade of 'importance' the author gives it, in the same meaning as
>     Smylers used in his mails (that is, not the importance of the
>     content, but the relevance it gets as attention focus - he made the
>     example of the English "small print" idiom, and in another mail
>     clarified that "It's less important in the sense that it isn't the
>     point of what the author wants users to have conveyed to them; it's
>     less important to the message. (Of course, to users any caveats in
>     the small print may be very important indeed!)"). From this point of
>     view, unless we aimed to avail of <b> as an intermediate grade of
>     relevance between 'normal text' and 'em/strong' (but, aren't these
>     enough to attract a reader's attention?), redefining its semantic
>     might be redundant with lesser utility. (In my crazy mind, this
>     applies to the headings too, since a 'good' heading focuses
>     attention on the core subject of its following section, so have to
>     be evidenced as an important slice of text). Furthermore, I meant
>     that <strong> and <em> would have been a better choice than <b> in
>     Smylers' examples because their *original semantics* is very close
>     together with that of "a more relevant text/a text needing greater
>     attention", while <b> *original semantics* is very different and
>     needs to be redefined for this purpose (but we have still got
>     possible alternatives to this).
> 
>
> Agree to disagree, I guess.  I don't find "We hope you'll find 
> <b>Product A</b> to be the best laundry detergent you've ever used!" to 
> be denoting emphasis or importance, really.  

I think 'Product A' is the core of the message, the thing some people 
are trying to sell you, the name you *must* remember when you want to by 
a laundry detergent, so those people become rich. The bold presentation 
aims to capture your attention and keep your eyes on it a bit longer; on 
a tv/radio spot the name of the product would be spoken out with some 
isolation, with at least a bit of emphasis, for the same reasons. It 
denotes importance meaning you need to pay a special attention to it in 
order to understand *what the author wants you to understand*. I think 
that the same semantics can be expressed by <strong>, since the 
importance of a piece of text is not (only) in its meaning, or in the 
message overall meaning, or in one's way to take it as important or not, 
but (also, or mainly) in the author's intention to mark it as different 
from the rest of the content, as a reading key, to drive your attention 
and as well your thoughts (ok, that's like saying that truth is a 
chimera, but such can be a crude truth :-P ).

> <i> has more obvious non-emphatic uses, such as marking up foreign-language  words,
> linnean classifications, and such.
>  

Well, a foreign-language word, specially if correctly pronounced (by 
someone else), can be more or less hard to 'catch', so a bit of emphasis 
in its pronounce might help the listener to correctly distinguish 
sounds. After all, most of times bold and italicized texts (try and) 
reflect our way to pronounce sentences, with more or less isolation, 
more or less emphasis, quicker or slower, so changing their meaning, 
telling the listener that any part requires a greater or a lesser 
attention, is somehow 'special', with somehow different grades of 
'speciality'. From this point of view, I think either <b>/<i> can be 
semantically the very same thing as <strong>/<em>, or their semantic 
should be redefined so to indicate a different (and lower) grade of 
'speciality' on the same "speciality scale", but not as a different kind 
of 'speciality' (i.e., <b>-text stands out for some - opaque - reason 
which has nothing in common with <strong>-text).

> 
>     Anyway, I'm not against a possible redefinition of <b> and <small>
>     semantics, but just aiming to deeply explore any alternative (such
>     as introducing new elements) while the specifications are in their
>     draft state. Just trying to give an alternative point of view with
>     some valid argumentations, if I can find some, nothing more (and
>     hope I'm not giving a different impression). Best regards.
> 
> 
> No problem.  Just because I disagree doesn't mean we can't argue.  ^_^
> 
> ~TJ

Ok, let's argue ^_^
Now I'll throw in an even creazier idea. Let's maintain everything as 
is, and let's add two new elements the semantics of 'outstanding' and 
'aside', which works as meta informations, i.e. they have no default 
style (or a default such as 'display:inline' and all the rest, but 
aureal properties, is inherited from the parent element) and ignore any 
style direclty set on them, but aureal styles, so they are ignored by 
any author not caring of them, but act as a shortcut for basic aureal 
behaviour for authors caring insteed, but not willing to create a whole 
aureal sheet, and can be helpful for an assistive software, regardless 
its support for aureal sheets, since their basic semantics is used as a 
hint on what to do despite any visual styling of the inner content (and 
of any inner <small>, <b>, <strong>, and so on).
Regards, Alex
 
 
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Received on Wednesday, 26 November 2008 14:48:22 UTC

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