W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > January 1997

Re: Anchor terminology

From: Peter Flynn <pflynn@curia.ucc.ie>
Date: 28 Jan 1997 10:44:22 +0000 (GMT)
To: w3c-sgml-wg@www10.w3.org
Message-id: <199701281044.KAA15814@curia.ucc.ie>
> (1) the basket that the pointy bits go in
> (2) the pointy bits that point at things
> (3) the things the pointy bits point at

> How about "link", "pointer", and "target".

That's the clearest explanation so far, facetious or not. The problem
we seem to face is that while _we_ can discuss this using (for example)
HyTime terminology, once we [re]enter the Real World [tm], we are going
to have to document this in terms that implementors and authors can
grasp easily, and that means link, pointer, and target. We are also
going to have to deal with the use of words like "source" and
"destination", as users will persist for some time in conceiving of
links as unidirectional:

> Another interesting point... does an "anchor link" a.k.a. HTML "<A" have
> one pointer/link-end/end-spec or two, really?  The spec, in a rather 
> disapproving tone, says 1, which conflicts with the definition of "link" 
> (look it up) but I'm beginning to think this is gratuitous... if the 
> software's gone to the trouble to track the  <A down so he can read it, he 
> might as well consider the spot he found it to be a thing-a-pointy-bit-
> points-at... but there's no obvious place to give it a ROLE or TITLE or 
> whatever.

Personally I'd like to avoid the use of the word "anchor" altogether,
in documenting or publicising XML: it simply is not easily explainable
to the author or user. Anchors are things that stop ships going adrift,
and the only possible explanation in discussing hypertext linking is to
say that an anchor is the {pointer|start-point|source|beginning|jump-off} 
of a link that holds the world steady while you follow (not "traverse",
please) the link to somewhere else: the clear implication being that
while the anchor holds, you can follow the link back again to where you
started. That's too much for many people to swallow: pointer is clearer.
"Double-ended pointer" is even clearer when we come to demonstrate

I'm sorry to labor this point, but I feel strongly that no matter how
clear we are in our own minds here about the terminology we use to
discuss and explain this between ourselves, we must above all else have
a concise and unambiguous way to explain it to the rest of the world
that does not involve applying cruel and unusual treatment to words
which already have established meanings in people's minds _outside_
the hypertext linking field.

Received on Tuesday, 28 January 1997 05:46:38 UTC

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