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

Robert Brodrecht whatwg at robertdot.org
Thu Mar 22 19:27:06 PDT 2007

On Mar 22, 2007, at 5:08 PM, Nicholas Shanks wrote:
> • 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:
> http://developer.apple.com/samplecode/Red_Rocket/listing4.html
> http://nehe.gamedev.net/data/lessons/lesson.asp?lesson=Mac_OS_X
> 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.

Just because "most ... doesn't bother" doesn't mean it ought to be  
removed.  Most people just use <i> instead of <em>, <cite>, or  
whatever.  By your logic, we don't need anything other than <i>, but  
you already argued for using things other than <i> to counter the  
articles points.  The problem is that to write semantically valid  
markup, there will be tags that don't get used very often.  So let's  
not ignore elements because "no one uses them."  Ignore them because  
they are useless.

<code> is not useless.  Code needs to be monospaced, and, sometimes  
formated like <pre>.  We could use <pre> but <pre> is just as bad as  
<i>.  It only says "this is preformatted" and it has no semantic  
meaning.  <code> means "This is computer code."  Using some CSS, I  
can make <code> act like <pre> AND it will mean something (e.g. a  
search engine that helps people find computer code can index stuff in  
<code> elements).

And, frankly, you are wrong.  Lots of places I go markup code with  
<code>. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]  The examples you give markup  
their code.  The problem is that there is no "blockcode" element  
(<blockcode> would be to <code> as <blockquote> is to <q>).  They use  
<pre> because it is all they have.

<code> isn't powerful enough as it is, in my opinion.

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

Well, only if the shampoo sample is output from a computer program.   
We do have to care about the semantics...

Joe Clarke isn't calling for the removal of computer science  
elements.  [10]  He's asking for other elements be added that will  
help, e.g., newspaper publishers.  As far as I know, HTML 5 accounts  
for many of these.

[1] http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200702/worst_code_ever/
[2] http://alistapart.com/articles/flashembedcagematch
[3] http://www.cherny.com/webdev/70/javascript-event-delegation-and- 
[4] http://robertdot.org/2006/07/18/json-an-alternative-to-xml-in- 
[5] http://bitesizestandards.com/bites/automatic-coloured-rows
[6] http://www.json.org/js.html
[7] http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.echo.php
[8] http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/DOM:document.getElementById
[9] http://joeclark.org/book/sashay/serialization/Chapter08.html
[10] http://blog.fawny.org/2006/10/28/tbl-html/#TBL-HTML-not-the- 

Robert <http://robertdot.org>

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