[whatwg] Thoughts on HTML 5

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue May 13 03:37:55 PDT 2008

On Thu, 28 Feb 2008 html at nczonline.net wrote:
> I've just finished taking a look at the working draft of HTML 5 and 
> thought I'd share my thoughts. Clearly, HTML 5 is meant as an evolution 
> of HTML 4, which has both its good and bad points. Accordingly, there 
> are both good and bad parts of the specification. My thoughts are as 
> follows:

(I've omitted replies to some parts of your e-mail. I have saved your 
e-mail for further replies to those sections later.)

>     * I understand the concept of the <dialog/> element but it's named 
> completely wrong. The point is to markup a conversation between two or 
> more parties. The problem is that the word "dialog", when in used in 
> user interfaces, refers to small windows that can be interacted with. 
> When I first read about this element, I assumed it was a way to indicate 
> that part of the page is a dialog window outside of the normal flow of 
> the document (which I thought was cool). After reading the rest, I was 
> disappointed to find out that wasn't the intent. I'd rename this element 
> as <conversation/> or <discussion/> to avoid such misunderstandings.

I agree that the name is suboptimal but those names are worse (they're too 
long, and they're overly specific). I'm not sure what to do about this.

>     * The <dfn/> is another that stresses the understanding of 
> grammatical structure for web developers. The intent is to designate the 
> defining instance of a term, abberviation, or acronym. Does that make 
> sense to you? If it did, give yourself one point; if it didn't, don't 
> feel bad, most people won't get it. Again, any element that leaves 
> people scratching their heads probably isn't necessary or useful.

<dfn> doesn't have to be used, but for certain cases it's very useful. I 
don't think it's a problem to keep it.

>     * Speaking of confusing, I've read the section about the <meter/> 
> element five times now and still have no idea what it's used for.

I don't know how to improve the current text. Does the example showing the 
newsgroups activity help at all?

The real reason for <meter> is that we need to make sure people don't 
abuse <progress> just to show gauges (e.g. disk space usage). Does that 
make sense? How should we go about better describing this?

>     * I'd like to see some treatment of rich text input controls. Right 
> now we all use a hack (an iframe in design mode) that has to be copied 
> over into a form field to be submitted. It would be nice to have this 
> handled natively and have reliable HTML formatting of that content 
> (instead of the per-browser implementations we have now).
> Also "contenteditable" doesn't solve my issue with rich text editing. It 
> solves the ability to do it, but not a straightforward way to do it in 
> the context of a form and submit it back to the server without some 
> intermediary code. My point is that there should be a way to submit rich 
> text in a form by default, without needing to write extra JavaScript 
> code.

The problem is that while everyone seems to want a rich text control, 
nobody seems to agree on exactly what it should allow. Thus 
contenteditable, and the ability for people to roll their own.

>     * I'd like to see a common attribute that can be used on any element 
> to indicate information related to the element. I'm tired of fighting 
> the custom attribute battle. The fact is that it's a very common need to 
> include extra data related to an element. I'd propose a "reldata" 
> attribute (short for "related data") be considered as an optional 
> attribute on all elements. We then, as developers, could use that 
> attribute as we see fit and the document would still validate (for 
> people who care about such things). 

We recently added data-*="", does that help?


Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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