[whatwg] Joe Clark's Criticisms of the WHATWG and HTML 5

Nicholas Shanks contact at nickshanks.com
Thu Mar 22 17:08:53 PDT 2007

Continuing today's flood of emails from me to this list, here's another.
Note: I never bothered to read this thread the first time, but since  
Henri has brought to the top of my email client again, I started from  
the beginning.

I want to comment on the eight bullets given at:
(a page linked from Joe Clark's original article)

These aren't that well thought through, I'm just throwing them out to  
be peed upon.

• 1 and 2 are both proper nouns, names of things.
These could be addressed with <name> with predefined classes "book",  
"movie" and "ship" producing italic output (and "person", "animal",  
"product" etc not doing so)
More thought would be needed here, like perhaps only applying  
for :lang(en) parent elements, such as:
<html lang="en"><p>My favourite film is <name class="movie"  
lang="fr">Amelie</name>. I have it on <abbr>DVD</abbr>.</p></html>

• Bullets 3 to 6 could be addressed with a <term> element, default  
rendering italic (not related to <dt>). You can apply any adjective  
you want to term and it seems to remain valid: foreign term,  
mathematical term, new terminology, etc. It would seem quite  
versatile yet remain semantically useful without becoming too general.

• Bullet 7: I think people marking up computer code in HTML are  
completely wasting their time. Most sample code I have seen doesn't  
bother. e.g. some random OpenGL sample code:
The usage case for this vs. usage of HTML for the rest of the  
internet is insufficient to earn the right to be in HTML.

• Bullet 8: We already have <em>

On 22 Mar 2007, at 21:25, Henri Sivonen wrote:

> On Oct 30, 2006, at 22:33, Ian Hickson wrote:
>> On Sun, 29 Oct 2006, Henri Sivonen wrote:
>>> FWIW, I think <samp> and <kbd> don't deserve to be in HTML and I  
>>> am not
>>> convinced that the use cases for <var> could not be satisfied by  
>>> <i>.
>> I'm lukewarm on all three, but the cost to keeping these is probably
>> slightly less than the cost to removing them, so I'm tending towards
>> keeping them... FWIW, <var> is used the most of those three, and  
>> <samp>
>> the least; they are all three used more often than <bdo> or  
>> <ruby>, at
>> least in the sample of several billion files I last made. (We're  
>> talking
>> in the 0.01% to 0.05% range here.)
> I tend to agree. But then they should not be used as a basis for  
> arguing anything about the design of HTML5 or as bases for  
> analogies for including new "semantic" elements of similar kind.

I hate them :-)
I would love to see <var> <samp> <kbd> et al. officially deprecated.
In fact, we could just deprecate anything that was in HTML 1.0 and  
hasn't earned itself more than 1% usage. No-one would miss them. (And  
if they do they can author in XML.)

I think elements should earn their place in the standard and get  
kicked out if the use case is too obscure or there is a more  
appropriate markup language available (MathML, DocBook).

I fear that in 100 years we'll be downloading free shampoo to our  
molecular synthesizers that will come wrapped in HTML <samp> tags.

- Nicholas.
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