[whatwg] <ol> semantics (and dialogue)

Simon Pieters zcorpan at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 4 14:56:51 PDT 2006


I think the current definition of <ol>[1] seems slightly too vauge:

   The ol element represents an ordered list of items (which are represented 
by li elements).

I think <ol> is a list where the order is significant to the meaning; where 
the order is emphasized. For lists that happen to be ordered but the order 
isn't really of a big significance or isn't of higher significance than the 
global order of the document, <ol> shouldn't be used IMHO.

In essence, I want the definition in HTML5 be more like the spirit in 

   An ordered list, created using the OL element, should contain information
   where order should be emphasized, as in a recipe: [...]

Otherwise people might use <ol> whenever a list happens to be in order, e.g. 
an A-Z list or a dialogue.

Which brings us to the next point: dialogue. The spec contains an example[3] 
which suggests that <ol> is appropriate for dialogue. I'm not convinced that 
it is. What makes a dialogue a list? While the order of dialogue is 
important, so is the order of any other paragraphs -- I don't think it 
should be emphasized in particular. I think I'd mark up the dialogue like 

   <p> <cite>Costello</cite>
       <q> Look, you gotta first baseman? </q>
   <p> <cite>Abbott</cite>
       <q> Certainly. </q>

Or, perhaps like this (in XHTML5):

   <p> <cite>Costello</cite>
       <blockquote> <p> Look, you gotta first baseman? </p> </blockquote> 
   <p> <cite>Abbott</cite>
       <blockquote> <p> Certainly. </p> </blockquote> </p>

[1] http://whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#the-ol
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/lists.html#h-10.1
[3] http://whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#the-blockquote

Simon Pieters

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