[whatwg] Various HTML element feedback

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Mon Aug 27 17:34:48 PDT 2012

On Wed, 6 Jun 2012, Henri Sivonen wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 2:53 AM, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> >> That might be realistic, especially there is no significant semantic 
> >> clarification in sight in general. This raises the question why we 
> >> could not just return to the original design with some physical 
> >> markup like <i>, <b>, and <u> together with <span> that was added 
> >> later.
> >
> > I think you'll find the "original design" of HTML isn't what you think 
> > it is (or at least, it's certainly not as presentational as you imply 
> > above), but that's neither here nor there.
> Is there a record of design between 
> http://www.w3.org/History/19921103-hypertext/hypertext/WWW/MarkUp/Tags.html 
> and http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/draft-ietf-iiir-html-01.txt ?

There's some in-between steps, e.g.:


> >> So why not simply define <i> recommended and describe <var>, <cite>, 
> >> <em>, and <dfn> as deprecated but supported alternatives?
> >
> > What benefit does empty deprecation have? It's not like we can ever 
> > remove these elements altogether. What harm do they cause?
> The harm is the wasted time spent worrying about and debating which 
> "semantic" alternative for italics to use.

I think this harm is dramatically reduced relative to the HTML4 days by 
the extensive use of examples and detailed descriptions in the spec now. 
If people are still having long debates, please don't hesitate to point me 
to them so I can clarify them in the spec. That's what a living standard 
is good for, after all.

> > If we have to keep them, we are better served by embracing them and 
> > giving them renewed purpose and vigour, rather than being ashamed of 
> > them.
> I think we have to keep them, because trying to declare them invalid 
> would cause people to do a lot of pointless work, too, but I think we 
> could still be ashamed of them.

I don't think that's healthy.

> > Note that as it is specified, <div> can be used instead of <p> with 
> > basically no loss of semantics. (This is because the spec defines 
> > "paragraph" in a way that doesn't depend on <p>.)
> Is there any known example of a piece of software that needs to care 
> about the concept of "paragraph" and uses the rules given in the spec 
> for determining what constituted "paragraphs"?

No, this is just to make it clear that you don't need to use <p>, and to 
short-circuit arguments about whether a <ul> is in a paragraph, etc.

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

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