[html5] the case for a <dli> element

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue Oct 15 14:54:30 PDT 2013

On Sun, 30 Dec 2012, Brian Tremblay wrote:
> I'm using <dl> markup for a restaurant menu, and have added product 
> microdata markup from schema.org. Because items in a <dl> are defined 
> implicitly -- <dt> element(s) followed by <dd> element(s) -- there's no 
> easy way to scope them individually. What I'm left doing is adding 2 id 
> attributes for each menu item, and using itemref:
> http://tsmchughs.com/test/dessert

That's one way to do it, yeah.

> If we had a <dli> element, to scope each item in a description list, the 
> markup needed to add microdata (or microformats) would be much simpler. 
> [...]
> Therefore, I think we need a <dli> element. This has come up in the 
> past. If I understand correctly, the editor has declined, saying that 
> the need for <dli> is only to make styling easier, so the problem should 
> be solved in css. But I think the problem here is not styling, it's 
> creating natural, discrete items in a description list, which might be 
> used for styling, or for microdata, or perhaps for other reasons which I 
> haven't thought of. Without <dli>, use of <dl> becomes much harder to 
> use even though it may be the best markup choice.

You're right that this is a much better reason for adding a <dl> grouping 

Unfortunately, lack of use cases isn't the only reason we haven't added 
it. One of the other reasons is that it would require parser changes. For 
example, take this:


This looks like it should work, but right now it gets parsed as:


(Another reason is that it makes the processing model for <dl> more 
complicated for tools that want to process groups of items in <dl>s.)

Still, you make a very good point, that for microdata, the lack of 
grouping here is a more serious issue than styling-system limitations.

I guess it comes down to a question of how common microdata on <dl> groups 
is, vs how painful changing the parser and legacy tools would be. It's 
probably a close call (not much usage, but not a huge amount of pain).

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
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