[whatwg] <code> attributes

ddailey ddailey at zoominternet.net
Wed Apr 29 13:46:23 PDT 2009

On  Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:16 PM, Jacob Rask wrote:
> has there ever been any discussion on including an attribute to the
> code element, specify the programming language in the markup? If so,
> what was the conclusion? I didn't find anything in the list archives.

Having just converted a 200+ page document with a lot of in-lined code to 
HTML , I found myself
rather taxed by the limitations of <code> , so while I like your suggestion 
(which does seem
to appear in the draft spec [1]) , I need to offer some  observations of my 

(disclaimer: I may well have been working on incorrect assumptions)
1. Having to type <pre><code><tagname></code></pre> seemed a little bit 
silly to me:
is there a use case for *not* wanting <pre> when doing <code>? Could that 
not be handled as an attribute of the <code> if so?
2. having to escape "<" as < in the middle of <code> seems like work for 
the author that could just as easily be handled by the browser. In the old 
days, <xmp> worked pretty well... why no replacement for its functionality??
3. trying to style a <code> so that it would have an indented margin, a 
border, a default font-style (monospaced), preserve within -line 
indentation, and work consistently across browsers seemed to defy my humble 
abilities with CSS. (see 
as an example of the very clumsy solution I ultimately opted for -- IE still 
doesn't preserve within-line indentation in this solution-- it used a styled 
table with a styled td and was particularly gross!.)
4. if we could just write
    <code language="xml">
it'd be nice to have the page render the HTML just as is.

5. Some of the good folks on either whatwg-irc or htmlwg-irc let me know 
that <code><p>happy</p><p>sad</p></code> was bad form, and that I should use 
<pre><code> instead. It never would have dawned on me that the first was bad 
form, nor that the second would be good form. (maybe it should have dawned 
on me, but I speak html sorta like I speak english, more through habit than 
training, and not very formally at that). Second the introduction of <p> 
within <code> was actually generated by a robot that converted a bunch of MS 
Word to <html> so someone other than me must have thought it was a good idea 
to do it that way.



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