[whatwg] several messages about <cite>

Shannon shannon at arc.net.au
Tue Apr 15 18:39:07 PDT 2008

Ian Hickson wrote:

> We're not talking about making class meaningful. I'm not sure I understand 
> what you are arguing against at this point.
> The proposal is just that authors should use class="" to distinguish the 
> various ways they use <i> so that they can (e.g.) style them differently. 
> Where is the spec unclear? I should rewrite it to avoid any ambiguities.

The spec is fine. I was referring to the discussion about adding a TYPE 
attribute for <cite>. Repeated below.

> Anne van Kesteren wrote:
>> > > Ian Hickson wrote:
>> > > 
>>>> > > > > Then would you want different markup for book titles, movie 
>>>> > > > > titles, play titles, song titles, etc?  Or would you just expect 
>>>> > > > > the script to search IMDB for anything marked up with <cite>?
>>> > > > 
>>> > > > Again, I don't really know. I could see a use case for a "type" 
>>> > > > attribute (as was suggested earlier in this thread), but that seems 
>>> > > > like a slippery slope. Suggestions?
>> > > 
>> > > If we go with something like a TYPE attribute, I hope we can give it a 
>> > > better name. However, hiding semantics inside the value of an 
>> > > attribute is a poor markup design in humble opinion. (Although it also 
>> > > has some advantages.)
> > 
> > It's subclassing: the general is sufficient, the specific better. Many 
> > markup languages use the design, and in this case, I think it's 
> > necessary.
> The class="" attribute can handle this case.

We appear to be talking about "lookups", "script", "semantics" and 
"markup" here rather than "style"; presumably to create custom link 
behaviours and assist in automated document processing. Perhaps there is 
an assumption that processing will only occur within the scope of the 
current page or site (and presumably therefore under the control of a 
single entity). However if <cite> were to have a type then it's likely 
that the first systems to take advantage of it would be search-engines 
and catalogues. I feel that class should not be suggested as an 
alternative to a type attribute because it is completely unreliable for 
this usage, for reasons I won't repeat.

Using a type/rel/category attribute instead of class will assist in 
automated document processing and categorisation. It doesn't really 
matter whether a list of allowed types is defined or not since a 
search/directory crawler would probably deal with the uncommon or 
unsupported exceptions. But lumping the type of citation in with the 
class names used to style it is simply asking for trouble since it will 
also trigger any defined styles (probably unintentionally) and/or create 
nonsense categories like "book_class" in the processors' DB. I could 
imagine such a situation leading to the following catalogue output:

This article contains:
     - 4 book citations
     - 2 book_class citations
     - 1 squiggly_underline citations

Hope that makes my position on this clearer. If I misunderstood 
somebodies comments then I apologise.


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