[whatwg] Lists, <ins>/<del>, and <a>

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Tue Aug 29 11:36:30 PDT 2006

Michel Fortin wrote:
> (Note that everything applying to normal lists in this message could 
> also apply to definition lists and tables.)
> The ongoing thread about a global href attribute versus a block-level 
> <a> element made me think of a similar situation concerning <ins> and 
> <del>. How can we markup removed or inserted list items? Here's a 
> general idea:
>     <ul>
>     <ins><li>Some list item</li></ins>
>     <del><li>Another list item</li></del>
>     </ul>
> But this is invalid. According to the spec the content model for <ul> is 
> "zero or more <li> elements".

As a more basic question, how does anyone actually use the <ins>/<del> elements? 
In their current form they are too basic to do worthwhile revision control and 
specifying a generic solution that will meet all needs seems challenging. I also 
know they can't be that widely used since Hixie's survey [1] says:

  "Some of the more obscure cases of non-standard tags we found include a series 
of tags with the st1: prefix, such as <st1:city>, and <st1:placetype>, 
<st1:country-region>, <st1:state>, which we are told come from Microsoft Office 
("smarttags"). Those four tags are used more often than the ins and del elements 
from HTML4" [2]

Clearly there are some situations in which basic revision control would be 
useful but, even then, I'm not sure the revision semantics have value beyond the 
boundary of the particular environment in which the document is being edited - 
by this I mean that an aural UA, for example, could not easily make use of an 
<ins> element in an arbitrary document, nor could the googlebot (I suppose one 
could argue more strongly for the <del> element). On the other hand an editing 
application, with support for revision control could easily invent some solution 
using e.g. a combination of custom classes. This will have the advantage that 
the application can represent as much or as little information as it requires 
(allowing for e.g. multi-level revision histories and extra metadata about the 
change) and the disadvantage only that the semantics are not recognised outside 
the application.

[1] http://code.google.com/webstats/index.html
[2] http://code.google.com/webstats/2005-12/editors.html

"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?"
  -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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