[whatwg] Re: About XHTML 2.0

Matthew Raymond mattraymond at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 3 19:25:42 PDT 2005

Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
> Ian Hickson wrote:
>>On Sat, 21 May 2005, Anne van Kesteren wrote:
>>>Why doens't SECTION suffice? They are sections separated by decoration. 
>>>At least, that is how it appeals to me.
>>They're not really sections. The chapter is the section, these are 
>>paragraphs together in the same chapter, with a divider between some of 
>>the paragraphs.
>>I read a lot of fiction books and when I come across a "* * *" it reads to 
>>me like a paragraph, saying "Meanwhile, in a different part of the 
>>universe:"; it doesn't read as "end section. new section:".
> I read the "* * *" part exactly the same way. And I consider your 
> quoted text to be the header for that sub-section even though it's 
> omitted from the output. I feel that the correct markup to use would be
> <section><!-- chapter starts here -->
> <h>Yet another chapter</h>
> <section><!-- 1st point of view, really a subsection -->
> <h class="undisclosed">In the Jack's basement</h>
> ...
> </section>
> <section><!-- presentation adds "* * *" here -->
> <h class="undisclosed">Meanwhile in the Bill's room</h>
> ...
> </section>
> </section><!-- chapter ends here -->

     So what you're saying is that if I want this...

| <section><!-- chapter starts here -->
|  <h>Yet another chapter</h>
|  <p>[Something about Jack.]</p>
|  <hr>
|  <p>[Something about Bill.]</p>
| </section><!-- chapter ends here -->

     ...then I have to do this?...

| .chapter > section + section:before {
|   content: "* * *";
|   text-align: center;
| }

| <section class="chapter"><!-- chapter starts here -->
|  <h>Yet another chapter</h>
|  <section><!-- 1st point of view, really a subsection -->
|   <h class="undisclosed">In the Jack's basement</h>
|   <p>[Something about Jack.]</p>
|  </section>
|  <section><!-- presentation adds "* * *" here -->
|   <h class="undisclosed">Meanwhile in the Bill's room</h>
|   <p>[Something about Bill.]</p>
|  </section>
| </section><!-- chapter ends here -->

     Actually, there are situations where the above would be suboptimal,
based on how :before and content are defined CSS2.1. For instance, if
you put a border around each <section>, the border would be rendered
around the "* * *".

     Note that if the above CSS is incorrect, it really just proves my
point: using CSS in place of <hr> is a pain for webmasters. Note also
that without CSS support (or if the separate CSS file isn't loaded for
some reason), you probably won't see a separator rendered unless that's
the default behavior for rendering sibling sections.

     This isn't just inconvenient from a styling and markup standpoint,
though, although clearly it increases the amount of HTML and CSS you
need. The big problem is that it places a semantic burden on authors 
that currently doesn't exist in HTML. With current HTML, I just need to 
put the paragraphs from the source text in <p> elements and use <hr> 
where the source text has a visual separator. Doing away with <hr> means 
  at the very least that you're forced to put everything in <section> 
elements when you previously didn't. Add to that the fact that authors 
now have to know how to style the sections in order to get the separator 
and you have a serious learning curve.

> In my opinion, this is the correct sematics for the content. To 
> increase excitement for the reader, some of the content is hidden 
> during the presentation. If you feel that hiding the information is 
> part of the semantics in this case (arguably that may be true), just 
> drop all the <h> elements with class "undisclosed" above.

     If I were transferring the text of a book into HTML, I would not
think to put in the headings in the first place, unless they were in the
book itself, and clearly a situation where you have "* * *" is one where
you won't have headings.

> I think this is an example of why an <h> element shouldn't be 
> required inside a <section> element.

     I'm with you on that one.

>>To put it another way, sections are things that you can put a title to. 
>>There's no title you can put to a group of paragraphs separated from other 
>>groups of paragraphs in the same chapter of a work of fiction, in my 
>>experience. It's just the same chapter, with the narrative exploring 
>>different characters or scenes.
> I think you can always put a title to a group of paragrahps. It's 
> just that sometimes (often?) you decide to leave it out for brevity 
> / clarity / excitement / whatever.

    Decide to leave it out? You're assuming people even think of it in 
terms of sections. We've gotten so used to narratives that cut from one 
location to the next, or go back and forth between places or events or 
characters, that we don't necessarily think of it in terms of different 
sections. You're presuming that every time an author creates what could 
be described as a section, it's done on purpose. In reality, it's may be 
largely subconscious, and the author may not even think about it until 
they need a separator.

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