[whatwg] contenteditable, <em> and <strong>

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Fri Jan 12 00:41:42 PST 2007

On Jan 12, 2007, at 05:25, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:

> Is the effort to get people to use CSS instead of spacer GIFs a bad  
> idea?
> Is the effort to get people to use <h1>..<h6> instead of <p><b> or  
> <p><font> a bad idea?

No. In those cases the alternatives are substantially different  
technically. Not only that, CSS is more powerful and makes things  
substantially easier and more maintainable even for authors who don't  
care about the philosophy behind the advocacy.

With <i> vs. <em>, the argument is over which identifier (opaque  
string that can be compared for equality) is used as an element name.  
There's no substantial technical difference.

> Is the effort to get people to use CSS instead of <table> for  
> layout a bad idea?

It often is, sadly. When people really, really want a grid layout  
model and try to fake it with positioning or floats, the result tends  
to be more brittle and (particularly with positioning) less fluidly  
scalable than a <table> layout (positioning being worse than floats  
but see http://dbaron.org/log/2005-12#e20051228a ).

> There were, I'm sure, many more occurrences of those problems than  
> there were improper uses of <em> and <strong>. And the efforts to  
> replace them are much older than the effort to get people who don't  
> think about semantics to use <b> and <i>, which has hardly even  
> started yet.

Considering the IIIR draft I referenced and the Siegel article that  
Anne mentioned, the <em> vs. <i> discussion seems to actually be  
older. But regardless of the exact age of the debate, my secondary  
point was that the expected payoff is so light that I don't think  
spending another 14 years on this is worthwhile. My opinion would be  
different if the expected payoff was insanely great.

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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