[whatwg] Add 'type' attribute to <mark>

Pentasis pentasis at lavabit.com
Fri Oct 31 11:06:18 PDT 2008

> On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 4:52 PM, Pentasis <pentasis at lavabit.com> wrote:
>> I hope I am doing this right, I am not used to mailing lists ;-)
>> Anyway, following some discussions on the web regarding footnotes/side 
>> notes
>> I have found that there is a need for some form of element to mark these 
>> up.
>> The most commonly accepted element at the moment seems to be to use the
>> <small> element. But this is clearly a wrong use of semantics.
>> As the <mark> element has different usages defined on it already why not
>> include a "type" attribute (or similar) that defines what it is used for.
>> One of these types would then be "footnote", others could be (relating to
>> what is already in the spec) "term", "highlight" etc. (I am sure others
>> would be much better at thinking up names than I am).
>> Esp. in light of the fact that the spec states that UA will probably have 
>> to
>> provide cross-linking would make this an ideal element for footnotes/side
>> notes.
>> Bert
> Although I agree with the overall idea, I have to mention that the
> "type" attribute itself wouldn't be a good match for this purpose: it
> is already used for something different (marking the content type for
> stuff like <script>, <img>, <object>, the new <audio> and <video>, and
> so on, often expressed as a Mime type). In general, I think
> overloading an attribute with different meanings (semantics) is not a
> good idea (we should leave the <input> case aside of this
> generalization, mostly because it's been using the attribute for over
> a decade by now). IMHO, a "role" attribute would match exactly what
> you are asking for, although I sent some feedback about it a while ago
> and got no responses (it probably went unnoticed, since there were
> several discussions running on by the time, and a few of them were
> quite heated). Maybe now that you are raising this issue I should try
> to bring back the relevant parts of those mails?
> OTOH, if a "type", "role", or similar attribute was added, we should
> question the need of the <mark> element (and many others) at all: what
> would it provide that a <span> with the same "type" or "role" doesn't?
> Also, I've seen some comments suggesting that class should be used for
> these purposes, and not just as a hook for CSS. If the spec is clear
> enough about this broader semantics of the class attribute, and UAs
> are aware of it, the only practical difference between class and
> type/role will be whether the author can come up with any arbitrary
> value (class), or has to choose between a pre-defined set (type/role).
> I'm not sure which approach would be better for this specific case.
> Have **you** considered using "class" for the purpose you are
> suggesting? If you have, and you still feel it's not enough, maybe
> explaining *why* would be helpful to figure out what the best solution
> would be.
> Just my thoughts.

Well, first of all, my personal "ideal" situation would be to provide a 
<footnote> element, that UAs would have to render with a footnote 
superscripted automatically numbered reference-link. a href-attribute would 
indicate where to link to.
But I guess that is out of the question ;-)

I would never opt for using "class" for anything other than CSS styling. The 
reason for this being that I feel that neither "id" nor "class" should 
contain keywords, but only author defined words. For me a "type" or "role" 
attribute would be like an "id" or "class" only it would contain keywords 
and be not style-related but content related.


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