[whatwg] Seperation of Content and Interface

Joshua Wise joshua at joshuawise.com
Sun Jul 11 13:22:55 PDT 2004

Hash: SHA1

On Sunday 11 July 2004 4:08 pm, Jim Ley wrote:
> >        -> Hypertext interfaces need to be seperated into two markup
> > languages - one for content, and one for layout.
> This has already been done, indeed most of the standards are already
> finished, or getting close.  (XForms, SVG (with sexball) etc.)

Okay, but those seem to be for user input, as opposed to user output. (Or at 
least XForms does. I googled for sexball and got lots of porn, and I googled 
for SVG sexball and got just IRC logs. Can someone enlighten me?) But anyway, 
let's take a case example here of what I'm talking about: weblogs.

In weblogs, there is a clear distinction between content and layout. We've all 
seen the attempts of bloggers to make their weblog pretty - usually, by 
creating awful HTML hacks that tend to mangle text. Instead, they can create 
a simple .layout file and a simple .content file, and have something else 
reference those.

> However the problem with these is that they don't degrade in HTML, and
> we have implementation problems with people very unwilling to change
> browsers (sensibly as they generally all work).
Okay, that makes sense. However, I see no reason why one could not create a 
plugin that would in turn create a nice HTML DOM tree to handle it. For those 
who have no option like that (Internet Explorer?), conceivably one could also 
write a "proxy" that allowed it to downgrade into html. Also conceivably, 
the .content itself could be simple HTML that only knew about <div>, <em> and 

Likewise, browsers would be allowed to ignore the .layout, or allow the user 
to change .layouts. This would be useful for screenreaders, as mentioned 

Possibly .layouts could be created specifically for such things as 3D 
browsers, or other technologies that we do not even dream of today. My main 
goals with this are to keep it extensible, portable, simple, and 
future-proof. A daunting task, but I think the result would be well worth it.

> The obvious solution to me is plugins, they're much easier for people
> to install.  Here Mozilla/Opera/Safari are ensuring this is simple, by
> standardising a good new plug-in architecture:
Aha :)

> However as well as that there's the WHAT-WG effort, which I'm not
> wholly sure what problems it's trying to solve other than [...] just HTML
> based solutions [...]
I was unclear as to whether WHAT-WG was only for HTML solutions at present, or 
for hypertext solutions as a whole. Can someone clear this up for me?

> Jim.

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Joshua Wise | www.joshuawise.com
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