[whatwg] several messages about HTML5

Sander Tekelenburg tekelenb at euronet.nl
Tue Feb 20 21:14:08 PST 2007

At 21:21 -0500 UTC, on 2007-02-20, Vlad Alexander (xhtml.com) wrote:


> Is it due to a flaw in HTML that it is difficult to build authoring tools,
> such as WYSIWYG editors, that generate markup rich in semantics, embody
> best-practices and can be easily used by non-technical people?

I think a big part of this problem is that WYSIWYG does not and never will
apply to the Web. Period. As long as you think in those terms, this problem
cannot be solved. And as someone else said, most authoring tools still try to
be WYSIWYG, and thus fail.

That's not a flaw in HTML, because it is essential to HTML that it separates
content from presentation. My feeling is that many people can understand and
work with that slightly abstract concept, but they need tools that make it
easy. Trying to achieve this with a wannabe-WYSIWYG editor is going to be a
fight. If we can offer people 'semantic editors' that work in a 'natural'
way, they won't have to fight.

People will still have to get used to the idea of course. Ian's mention of
education applies. But I think before that education stands a chance of
making a dent, there'll need to be good non-WYSIWYG authoring tools.

Figuring out the right interface for such a semantic editor will be one of
the biggest challenges. It'll require teaming up with people in other fields,
who have studied how people learn; how minds work. (Sort of like what Apple
did when they first designed their GUI.)

The Web Repair Initiative aims to take on this challenge:

> Since much of the content on the Web is created using such authoring tools,
>can we ever achieve a semantically rich and accessible Web?

IMO it makes it in fact more achievable. Although it will be a quite an
undertaking to improve authoring tools, it is still much easier than to
succesfully preach to each and every webdesigner out there... I consider this
shift towards using HTML generators an opportunity to get closer to a
semantically rich and accessible Web.

Sander Tekelenburg
The Web Repair Initiative: <http://webrepair.org/>

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