[whatwg] Separating Interface and Content

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Fri Jan 16 17:35:27 PST 2009

On Sat, 2 Aug 2008, Greg Houston wrote:
> My open question is, given the direction the web seems to be going in, 
> in developing HTML5 are we giving much thought to eventually separating 
> the interface from the content? Like right now we are adding such 
> elements as meter, progress, menu, context menu and so forth to the 
> specification when it seems they might be better suited to a separate 
> file. Five years from now are we going to be giving people a hard time 
> for sticking context menus right into their HTML file the same way we 
> now hassle people for using tables to structure their document?

The reason we separate style from content is that we want content to be 
applicable to multiple media, so that users in a variety of situations can 
have complete access to the page.

I don't currently see a reason to separate the interface from the content. 
It may be that technology develops in a direction where that makes sense, 
for example one could imagine a tool that can dynamically build user 
interfaces around blobs of data, but as an industry we are far from that 
point and frankly there isn't really much indication that we'll get there 
any time soon.

In the meantime it makes sense to keep things as simple as makes sense, 
which in this case means keeping the style and data separate, but 
considering logic, interface, and content together.

Note that if you want to create content that separates these aspects, 
there are technologies that either allow or enforce such separation, such 
as XForms and XBL.

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

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