[whatwg] Video proposals

Robert Brodrecht whatwg at robertdot.org
Fri Mar 16 15:46:15 PDT 2007

Gareth Hay said:
> Ok, I could understand that approach, with things like <img><video>
> handled internally.
> Is there then a case for doing <object> properly by specifying a
> replacement, something like <plugin> / <extern>?

Something that is bugging me over on the W3C HTMLWG mailing list is the
want to drop <acronym> in favor of <abbr>.  I'm emotionally attached to
<acronym>.  I use it a lot, and really do feel like it is semantically
different from <abbr>.  Asbjørn Ulsberg suggest replacing both with
<short>. [1]  The idea was a relief because it made the tag MUCH more
generic and (now that I think about it) could have more accurate and
broader references (e.g. microformats use <abbr> for shorter date format,
but <short> would make more sense).

The problem is that <short> is not backwards compatible, and it kills off
two elements at once.  What we need to do, instead, is disconnect from our
internal definitions of what a tag is, and reuse it to serve as what it
ought to have been called to be semantically correct.  So, I'll just have
to get over the idea that <abbr> really just means "the string in here is
a shortened version of a longer string" and not "the characters in here
are a shortened version of a long word."

In much the same way, <object> is now associated with "media other than
images (even though object will do images)."  Instead of killing it for
better semantics, backward compatibility be damned, we need to change our
thinking to: <object> means "a file that needs a plugin object to play." 
We'll still be able to play video and show pictures using the object tag. 
We'll need that for backward compatibility.  But, we should start using
<video> to play video once HTML 5 is finalized and use object for playing
video only as a fallback until browsers understand <video>.

If we drop and change elements just because we think another would be
semantically better / cooler, we'll end up looking like XHTML 2.  We don't
want to be there, I promise.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007JanMar/0140.html
Robert <http://robertdot.org>

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