[whatwg] [br] element should not be a line break

Jeremy Keith jeremy at adactio.com
Wed Aug 4 16:03:32 PDT 2010

Thomas wrote:
> What strikes me though is that according to the spec "The br element represents a line break". A *line* break is presentational in nature. The break is structural, but restricting it to a certain presentation of that break lacks the desired separation of structure and presentation.

I agree. Other elements have been redefined to remove medium-specific descriptions from their definitions (<b>, <i>, and <hr>, specifically). It seems logical to me that <br> should get the same treatment.

timeless wrote:
> The short form is that part of HTML5 is documenting how HTML1..4
> works, so that browsers can support existing content by implementing
> the HTML5 specification.

The suggestion, as far as I understand it, is not to change how the element *works* in browsers, but merely to redefine its meaning as "a minor logical break" rather than "a line break." The default browser styling would not change.

Aryeh wrote:
> Anything else is impossible in this case.  <b> and <i> are also
> presentational, but the presentation cannot be separated from the
> semantics.

This is no longer true. The semantics of <b> and <i> have been changed in HTML5, specifically to separate the presentation from the meaning. Specifically, any reference to screen- or page-specific styling like "bold" and "italic" have been removed (allowing the elements to still have meaning in a medium such as audio).

I like Thomas's suggestion (or, at least, I like it as much as any of the semantic redefinitions being applied to formerly-presentational elements).

The <hr> element is currently defined as "a paragraph-level thematic break." I think <br> could be defined as "a text-level thematic break."


Jeremy Keith

a d a c t i o


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