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Re: code, samp, kbd, var

From: Philip Taylor (Webmaster) <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 12:15:07 +0100
Message-ID: <464844BB.5080602@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: www-html@w3.org

Lachlan Hunt wrote:

> Philip & Le Khanh wrote:

>> Fair enough : could you tell us what the evidence was that supported
>> the addition of <code>, <var>, <samp> and <kbd> ?
> I think David Woolley covered use cases reasonably well already, but 
> here's a brief list of practical issues I can recall from memory.
> They're widely used already.  Dropping them would would cost more than 
> keeping them, since trying to migrate existing content to HTML5 would 
> require removing them from all documents being migrated, and that 
> wouldn't help anyone while losing somewhat valuable semantics.

I think that in order to make an informed decision on whether or not
to add <code>, <var>, <samp> and <kbd> (you can't speak of "dropping"
them, since you have already told us that "[HTML5] started with a clean
slate"), it is necessary to have real statistics rather than to
simply describe them as "widely used".  Did WHATWG actually analyse
their usage in a large random sample of extant web pages, and if
so, what percentage of pages contained 1, 2, 3 or all of them ?

 > I realise they're somewhat specific to computer science, and if we were
 > creating a language from scratch, this issue might have slightly more
 > relevance.  But if they were removed, something new would need to be
 > added (probably through some extension mechanism) and that would be
 > against the design principle of don't reinvent the wheel.

Here I disagree.  They are very universe-of-discourse specific, so
/should/ (IMHO) be added through an as-yet-unformulated extension
mechanism rather than forming a part of the core element set, just
as should elements tied to (say) music or sport.

 > var is one of the semantic uses for italics.  Sure, we could probably
 > drop it in favour of <i>, but then you and others would be complaining
 > even more about us creating a presentational language.

This I don't understand at all : what is "a semantic use for italics" ???
Italics are simply a highly stylised version of a base font; what has
such a concept to do with a document markup language ?

Philip Taylor
Received on Monday, 14 May 2007 11:15:05 UTC

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