[whatwg] Joe Clark's Criticisms of the WHATWG and HTML 5

Christoph Päper christoph.paeper at crissov.de
Wed Nov 1 10:24:17 PST 2006

*Henri Sivonen*, 2006-10-29:

>> http://blog.fawny.org/2006/10/28/tbl-html/
>>     * HTML has samp, var, and kbd. I use all of them and I am  
>> pretty much the only one who does.
> FWIW, I think <samp> and <kbd> don't deserve to be in HTML and I am  
> not convinced that the use cases for <var> could not be satisfied  
> by <i>.

I consider

   <a href="foo.xga"><samp><img src="foo.qvga" alt="Foo"></samp></a>

more semantic than the frequent

   <a href="foo.xga"><img src="foo.qvga" class="thumbnail"  

Alas nobody is using it that way. (What kind of |rel| could one use  
for this kind of links BTW?)

If |kbd| is understood as a general element type for any user input/ 
action, no online software or hardware documentation or help file  
could do without it and there are a lot of these. In practice it is  
sometimes considered to mean "key" instead and thus styled with  
"border-style: outset".

>>     * “HTML5” has meter (for measurements) and t for time notation.

Joe Clark basically disqualifies himself here for any serious  
comments on any standard, because he appears to only skim over them,  
not read them. (What makes it worse is his repeated mentioning of is  
wrongly-guessed understanding of |meter|.) Despite that, an element  
type for measurements, i.e. pairs of value and unit, might not be the  
worst idea, although low in priority.

>>     * annotation
>>     * note and reference for footnotes, endnotes, and sidenotes  
>> (not aside in “HTML5”)

That's basically all the same (to me), just presented differently,  
except that some footnotes may well be rendered inline -- e.g. like  
this -- and |aside| always is a paragraph of its own.

>>     * Ban tables for layout.
> As long as graphic designers want to use grid-based layouts,  
> telling them to fake them with floats or, worse, positioning is  
> jumping from the frying pan into the fire. (And telling them to use  
> display: table; doesn't work if IE doesn't support it.)

I think the best thing to do is declaring a |table| that is the only  
child of |body| (perhaps not counting text nodes and enclosing |div|)  
to be a layout table -- always. All other tables would have to be  
semantic. This would make many simpler ones of the existing table- 
layout sites conforming, but at the same time (preferably strongly)  
discouraged nested layout tables. Another option was an extra  
attribute for |table|. I still think a 2- to ca. 5-cell layout table  
doesn't harm anyone (if done right), but benefits many until the  
browser world changes for a better. And HTML5 isn't that semantically  
pure anyway.

> In practice, as far as mobile accessibility for me is concerned  
> with today's shipping software, traditional single-column HTML  
> works great, table layouts are a bit annoying but mostly harmless  
> and the supposedly accessible cool CSS stuff can make content  
> unreadable.

You can tell a misguided or under-experienced CSS advocate by his  
recommendations incorporating |float| for layout purposes (and some  
similar flaws).

Even those devilish frames /may/ be more accessible than CSS layouts,  
when the frameset is displayed as a plain list of links.

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