[whatwg] <CENTER>, <MENU>, <DIR>, <NL>
Eugene T.S. Wong
lists.eugenetswong at gmail.com
Mon Jan 16 16:02:31 PST 2006
On Sun, 15 Jan 2006 06:18:46 -0800, Anne van Kesteren
<fora at annevankesteren.nl> wrote:
> Quoting "Eugene T.S. Wong" <lists.eugenetswong at gmail.com>:
>> <DIV> is no more semantic that <I>, <B>, or <CENTER>, yet they
>> have their uses.
>> I believe that they are useful for visual user agents, in that we
>> don't have to provide a class name for simple uses. Generally
>> speaking, <CENTER> should be used sparingly, if at all, but it should
>> be used. <CENTER> could be used for resume headings and various other
>> types of text, like peotry.
> What would its semantics be as opposed to <div>? Do you have a concrete
> as how <center> would work?
I don't think that it is semantic at all. It's just that sometimes it
would save us some hassles of having to type:
<div id="center">blah blah blah</div>
I'd much rather type:
<center>blah blah blah</div>
Currently, images aren't allowed as children of <BODY>, which kind of
makes sense if I understand correctly. I don't know about <OBJECT>, and
I'm kind of lazy right now. :^) So if we were creating a document that
isn't a child of a paragraph, then we could do:
<CENTER><IMG SRC="asdf" ALT="qwe"></CENTER>
The same could be done for text as well. I was doing a mission statement
for an organization. This mission statement was created with the text
being centered. It could be done with <DIV> and stylesheets but I'm not
certain that it should be, because I believe that the markup should convey
that this is the way that it is for a reason. It isn't just design. In
this case, the markup should convey that the mission statement was always
this way or should be this way by default.
Another example is computer game instructions. There are a lot of Atari
fans out there still, and they may be interested in viewing game
instructions online. The default rendering of the HTML should be exactly
like the original manuscripts as much as possible. That isn't to say that
the original manuscripts were designed properly. The idea is to preserve
the original manuscripts as much as possible for historical value and
I understand the concept of stylesheets to be something that alters the
default presentation. For example, we don't display tables as a bunch of
inline text. We display it with a default of "display:table", etc. If we
had implemented stylesheets from the beginning and encouraged them to use
<DIV>s instead of <TABLE>, then people would be accustomed to using
"display:table", but what good is it? Isn't it more convenient to have
default stylings? As far as I understand, default stylings are supposed to
be an amazing feature. That is why blind readers are able to do powerful
things with tables.
I'm hoping that <CENTER> could get some kind of non-semantic use in the
same way that <I> and <B> do, and the way that <TABLE> gets semantic use.
Another good use of <CENTER> is poetry or introduction pages, where there
isn't a lot of text, and it looks much nicer when it is centered by
default. I suppose that in this situation, I am getting very close to
making tag soup, and to encouraging bad coding habits, but it doesn't have
to be that way.
In the past, people typically did something like this:
where there were no anonymous boxes, and there was no semantic value added
by the <CENTER> element. What I'm proposing is supposed to encourage the
use of <P> and stylesheets when the text is a paragraph that needs center
alignment, and the use of <CENTER> when it is a div that needs center
alignment. It's there to *replace* non-semantic and structural elements in
specific contexts, not to add to create tag soup, and not to replace
The thing is that anything that really requires center alignment is most
likely an uncommon type of text, so it would require a class or some
selector. Since we already have this type of an element, then why not use
>> I'd like to recommend that the WHATWG bring back <MENU> & <DIR>,
> I have not seen <dir> and I'm unsure what it could be used for...
I think that I saw it in an old spec, or an old book. It's definitely not
a WHATWG thing.
<DIR> could be used for listing files. If you want to print out the files
of a directory and its subdirectories, then you could do that with <DIR>.
I'm fairly certain that that was the original intent. For example:
which could be rendered as:
| |- asdf
| |- qwer
| |- zxcv
or it could be rendered as
Generally speaking, this would probably be used by application
developers/designers, more than web page developers/designers. Opera
allows us to browse our own hard drives, and I'm sure that all/most other
browsers do also.
Also, this could be used by instruction manual writers. They could say,
"This manual includes the following pages and can be found on
The good thing about this, is that even if a browser decides to not render
the items in the manner that I've demonstrated, it could still present the
information in an understandable way. All the browsers would have to do is
use bullets. The context should give a hint as to what is what.
Actually, now that I think about it, non-compliant browsers wouldn't
display ".kde" in the example, but I think that that is just a detail that
could be worked out. Perhaps instead of using ID, we could just code it in
a similar manner:
where the directory name is just an anonymous box.
> I could not find <NL> (or <nl>) in any XHTML recommendation. I also never
> encountered it anywhere as actually being used, only in some examples
> from the XHTML 2.0 draft...
Yes, the draft is where I got it from. I hope that I didn't
miscommunicate. It's just that I'm not accustomed to using "draft" &
"recommendation" for these discussions. I'm accustomed to thinking in
terms of "standard" & "non-standard". I'm working on it, though. :^)
Does that clarify things?
Sincerely, and with thanks,
Eugene T.S. Wong
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