[whatwg] Seperation of Content and Interface

Joshua Wise joshua at joshuawise.com
Sun Jul 11 12:31:14 PDT 2004

Hash: SHA1

Hello all,

I saw the link to WHAT-WG on Slashdot recently, and thought to myself that
this would be the ideal ground to toss an idea out that I have been mulling
over for a few weeks.

My idea started as the following problem:
        -> Currently, a markup language designed mainly for content is being
abused in ways that it was not designed to handle to allow fancy design.

The markup language that I refer to is obviously HTML. Sites even as simple
as Slashdot (to choose an example) need to abuse tables and background
to get desired effects, such as the rounding of edges on stories. Granted,
CSS goes a long way towards solving this problem by removing much of the
burden from the main HTML document of layout, however that still leaves a
mighty abuse of <DIV> tags.

Through this, my idea morphed into a "requirement", or possibly a "base
        -> Hypertext interfaces need to be seperated into two markup
languages - one for content, and one for layout.

This is the requirement that immediately came to mind for me, however I am
certain that other people on this list can come up with other "base

After I came up with this "base solution", I proceeded to analyze it and
group all possible "implementation solutions" into two categories with a
        -> Can HTML and CSS be coerced to meet this requirement effectively,
or do "content" and "layout" languages that enforce the aforementioned
distinction more clearly need to be designed?

My initial gut reaction is that HTML and CSS cannot be coerced to meet that
requirement for a few reasons, including:
        -> Many people are still used to the "old way" of doing things - do
design with HTML, and use CSS to help.
        -> HTML and CSS do not enforce the layout/content boundary.

In addition, HTML and CSS still would not effectively support screen
etc - there is no clear boundary between important content, content,
banners, and other things that screen readers would not need to know how to

So, my opinion is that new "content" and "layout" languages need to be
designed to solve this problem. Obviously that is only my opinion - I am
sure that there are other people on the list who may wish to argue in favor
of HTML. Feel free to convince me that HTML is the right way to stay - after
all, almost everything supports it (or at least to some extent).

Thanks for your time.
Joshua Wise

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Joshua Wise | http://www.joshuawise.com/
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