[whatwg] New attributes would degrade better than new elements

Ashley Sheridan ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk
Wed Oct 26 14:57:56 PDT 2011

On Thu, 2011-10-27 at 00:36 +0300, Jukka K. Korpela wrote:

> 26.10.2011 23:16, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
> > Believe me, these discussions were had in the past.
> I do, but did you draw the conclusions?
> > All major UAs except old IE handle unknown elements in a way that's
> > acceptable
> That means all browsers except that the most common one. Is that a 
> realistic view?

Yes it is I think. If people are using versions of IE that old, then
they deserve to have an older version of the "web" given to them. There
are plenty of browsers available for even the older operating systems
(Chrome, Opera, Firefox) so not having a new one available is no excuse.

> What do you expect to gain by adding new elements, as opposite to the 
> smoother addition of new attributes?

Why is adding attributes smoother? User agents still have to be modified
to 'understand' an attribute to make the same semantic sense as a new
tag, so you gain nothing. You're just swapping one flavour for another.

> > So, it's not a big deal.
> It's difference between working on all browsers and working on some 
> browsers as well as being tweakable when JavaScript is enabled.

If you're using an older version of IE then likely it's because you
don't know any different, and also likely that you don't even know what
Javascript is, let alone know how to disable it. I can't back this up
with facts, just personal experience.

> Under which circumstances would you vote for the latter, and what do you 
> expect to win? I love gambling, but what's the potential gain here? 
> Pleasing someone's idea of "semantic markup", as if attributes could not 
> be semantic?

Attributes can be semantic, but where do you draw the line? From what
you're saying, all tags in HTML could be reconciled into one and you can
just use attributes to differentiate:

<tag type="image" src="blah.png">
<tag type="para">text</tag>
<tag type="italic">text</tag>
<tag type="css">.blue{color:#00f;}</tag>

Would you really favour using attributes to determing the meaning of a
tag, or would you rather that HTML just follows its natural course and
attributes be used to supplement a tag from default values?


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