Re: Why "ul"

Murray Maloney (murray@sco.COM)
Thu, 9 Mar 1995 14:38:41 -0500 (EST)

> Evan writes:
> > > <ul> is easier to type than <list unordered>. It costs less network
> > > bandwidth. It's here today and it works.
> It is "traditional" when you discover that part of a language should
> be replaced by another is to introduce the new construct, "depracate"
> the old one, and gradually stop supporting it.
> I agree that ordered and unoredered lists should be replaced by
> general lists with any kind of bullet you want. Why can't we
> have our cake and eat it too?

I think that we are having our cake and eating it by hanging
on to the distinction between ordered and unordered lists.
This distinction has been made in many of the standard
SGML DTDs which are in use today. Why make it harder,
for publishers in other disciplines, to convert their material
to HTML?
> POSSIBLE COUNTERARGUMENT: can anybody come up with a good reason for
> truly "unordered" lists? Nondeterministic HTML anybody?

Since you asked -- and not necesarily because I think
that anyone has an immediate need for this -- I can
provide an example where distinguishing between
ordered and unordered lists could be used to the
advantage of a publisher by a rendering engine.

Consider your average shopping list. The order
of the items in the list is not, strictly speaking,
critical to the understanding of the list. The default
rendering for such a list would likely be to present
the items in the order encountered in the input stream.

However, it might be useful -- to conserve space --
to sort the list items according to the "size" of
the content of the list item. Given a list which
contained single words or short phrases, it would
be possible to render the list in columnar format,
with the shorter words/phrases balancing the longer.

For example

- bananas - 100 watt bulbs - potato chips
- apples - 2 dozen eggs - soft drinks
- oranges - laundry detergent - pretzels

Knowledge of the list type -- as unordered -- would allow
a rendering engine to produce the list shown above from a
random set of list items on the input stream.

Murray C. Maloney Internet:
Technical Publications Writer/Architect Uucp: ...uunet!sco!murray
SCO Canada, Inc. My Phone: (416) 960-4031
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