W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > April 2007

Re: HTML5 script start tag should select appropriate content model according to src

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 21:22:12 +0100
Message-ID: <462D1574.1060301@splintered.co.uk>
To: XHTML-Liste <www-html@w3.org>

Henri Sivonen wrote:

> It's the same thing on other visual media, including screens, when the 
> semantics are presented by italicizing. It's not like J. Random reader 
> views source to see if a given run of text was marked up as <i>, <em>, 
> <cite>, <dfn> or <var>.


 > If the UA doesn't present the distinctions to the reader, marking up
 > semantics is useless as far as the human reader is concerned.

So, it's a shortcoming in user agent support. Moving beyond the visual, 
screen readers for instance can (depending on settings) differentiate 
between <i> and <em>, and treat them differently (the latter resulting 
in a change of volume and/or inflection of the spoken output).

> It isn't particularly useful to try to make moral right/wrong arguments 
> about the behavior of Web authors on the aggregate. To get the masses do 
> something, there need to be good incentives. There's no point in bearing 
> the cost of marking everything up diligently if there isn't a payoff 
> that is reasonable compared to the cost.
> Honestly, I can't make the case to my mother why she should bother to 
> mark up anything as <cite> instead of just pressing command-i in 
> Dreamweaver.

The masses will use authoring tools/environments. As long as those tools 
offer access to <i>, but not to the more semantic alternatives, it's 
obviously futile to expect the masses to use more appropriate markup.
The payoff is the usual chicken and egg conundrum: tools to further 
extract and manipulate semantic data can be built right here, right now, 
but until a sizeable amount of web content out there is actually 
semantic, they won't be built...and vice versa. This is the argument you 
hear from AT manufacturers when they say that their tools rely on 
heuristics for many things, rather than structural markup.
And until more appropriate markup options are available, a standard that 
wants to "work with the majority of web content out there" will never 
change that status quo.

> It isn't the same. Headings are more common than e.g. taxonomical names 
> and are related to things like intra-document navigation using outlines, 
> etc. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to include markup for headings 
> but leave markup for taxonomical names on the other side of the cutoff.

Hmmm...sounds like we may need a markup language that is extensible, as 
the cutoff point may be different for different audiences/purposes.

> No, don't ask them. See what they actually do. In the latter case, the 
> is actually an HTML element (<dfn>), so the usage frequency could be 
> measured.

Is <dfn> readily and clearly available in authoring environments?

> Even though the editor of the spec may mine this mailing list for 
> feedback from time to time and even though Lachy and I are now engaging 
> in this thread, posting to the WHATWG list is still a better way to get 
> heard.

The fundamental discussions around whether or not <i>, <b>, <sub>, <sup> 
etc are presentational or not have been going around for years...not 
just in this particular thread.

Patrick H. Lauke
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
Co-lead, Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
Take it to the streets ... join the WaSP Street Team
Received on Monday, 23 April 2007 20:22:16 UTC

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