[whatwg] Semantic styling languages in the guise of HTML attributes.

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at gmail.com
Mon Jan 1 00:44:28 PST 2007

Matthew Raymond wrote:
> Interesting that you should choose that example, because 
> it can mean different things depending on the element you use 
> it on. Therefore, a global |type| attribute would almost 
> certainly conflict with the element-specific attribute unless 
> it was defined otherwise.

Conflicts don't create any anxiety for me. If there is a conflict either
there is an undefined state or one of the two is defined to take

> One thing an element like |type| does provide, however, is 
> mutual exclusion. However, you could do that with a namespace:

Please forgive me if I am exhibiting my ignorance, but my understanding is
that HTML5 will not have XML namespaces per se because HTML5 is not XML?

> Notice how the use of namespaced attributes instead of 
> |role| actually requires fewer characters. In theory, if you 
> used a lot of roles, the savings in equal signs and quotation 
> marks might make |role| more attractive, but I doubt it would 
> be significant to justify |role| itself.

> >> purpose is orthogonal to the purpose of the elements they're being 
> >> added to. That's why |id| and |class| are so useful.
> >> They don't alter the semantics of the element. Rather, they act as 
> >> targets for styling and scripting.

> >>    However, global attributes like |role|, |src| and 
> |href| directly 
> >> compete with the semantics of HTML elements in many ways. 
> We already 
> >> see this with |role| versus "HTML5". Many roles have 
> semantics that 
> >> overlap with elements like <nav> (navigation), <article> 
> (secondary), 
> >> <aside>
> >> (note) and <footer> (contentinfo).
I still have not heard a compelling argument against an additional
May I ask, but is your relationship to this spec?  Do you need to implement
it?  On what platform?

> I've shown you that not only are there conflicts with 
> proposed attributes, roles and elements, but that they 
> actually compete in certain situations. Furthermore, I did so 
> with only minutes worth of research.

I don't see that as a problem they way you do.

> >>> Is there an axiom or W3C finding that we can reference for this?
> >>
> >>    Of course not. That's the problem. You see the power of markup 
> >> being shifted from elements to attributes to attribute values.

Then your beef should not be with me, but with the W3C (or similar). If they
will publish a finding that says it's a bad thing, I might come to see it as
such.  Right now I don't.

> This line of conversation doesn't advance our conversation 
> regarding global attributes and roles. Even if there is no 
> support for my viewpoint in the W3C, the idea that this 
> proves my argument invalid is a logical fallacy.

It is NOT fallacy as the entire point of the W3C and IETF and others is to
develop consensus between Good and Bad Things so we have some Authorities
and don't have to debate our PERSONAL OPINIONS ad infinitum.  If you think
it is wrong, take it a group that will agree and publish a finding. Or
create an advocacy initiative (like I have: www.welldesignedurls.org) and
publish enough of your work in a compelling enough manner that people will
agree to support your position.  As it is, your position is just a judgement
call that can only be determined with individual experience to which I
currently disgree, but please don't call me out on my position in a public
forum because you have an opinion that few if any others are rallying

Even better, why not go to [uf-discuss] and make your case there?  If you
can convince those guys it's not a good idea you'll be far more effective
then trying to convince me here (where few others on *this* list seem to

I can debate each of your remaining points from your message, but it is
hardly relevent because it won't change your mind or for that matter anyone
else's on this list.  At a high level you seem to feel that everything
should be tightly controlled so there is no chance of invalid combinations
and I believe at a high level things should be loosely controlled even if it
means some invaldid markuo sp that useful patterns are allowed to emerge.
You prefer control, I prefer freedom.  If we were talking politics you'd be
right-wing and I've be left.  Since it is a fundamental disagreement in
philosophy which doesn't necessarily make either of us more right or wrong
than the other, neither of us can really claim the high ground.  

If you feel strongly about your position, take it to the W3C, uf-discuss,
the IETF, or all of the above and make your case so that they publish a
finding in support of your position.  Until then, I don't think it's
appropriate to continue discussing on WHATWG.  If others on the list
disagree and think we should continue the debate here, they should let us
both. Until then, adieu. 


-Mike Schinkel

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