[whatwg] [WA1] <ol type=a> is semantic

Mikko Rantalainen mikko.rantalainen at peda.net
Thu Oct 13 05:17:27 PDT 2005

dolphinling wrote:
> Matthew Thomas wrote:
>>I'd also like to see <ol type= reintroduced, for the reasons Simon gave. 
>>It is especially semantically important in legal documents (for the same 
>>reasons start= is).
> I agree that making sure the numbering is correct in legal documents 
> (and other documents that have the same type of structure) is 
> semantically important. I don't think that automatically generated 
> numbering is the way to do it, though.
> In a legal document, as I understand it, the fact that something is 
> *Section 4* is important. Not that it's the fourth section, but that 
> it's *Section 4*. If section 3 is removed, section 4 stays *Section 4*. 
> (Because you'd need to update all the documents which reference it, 
> which would never be done.)
> An ordered list isn't appropriate for that situation. An ordered list is 
> appropriate for the situation in which I have 5 things I need to do, in 
> order. When I realize that I don't need to do thing #2, I now have four 
> things I need to do, in order.

In legal text, the ordering of sections may be important so it 
should indeed be an ordered list (the order of list items is 
important) instead of unordered list (the list may be reordered 
without changing the meaning). The fact that list items inside <ol> 
have numbers or letters before them is only the default rendering in 
many UAs.

However, if we decide that <ol> has indeed the meaning that the list 
should be numbered instead of just meaning that *order* is 
important, then forget everything I said.

> So I don't think legal documents is an appropriate reason to reintroduce 
> type=.

I agree, type cannot describe the semantics needed to markup legal 
text. I'm afraid that most use cases that ol element cannot handle 
cannot be fixed with something as simple as type attribute. I 
wouldn't want to repeat the mess known as <img alt> where the 
correct alternative content would often require markup but the alt 
attribute can contain only plain text.


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