Re: REL and REV attributes (Was: More comments on HTML 3.0)

Craig Hubley (
Thu, 27 Apr 95 12:24:48 EDT

> Well, "Document B" would typically be a human document. :-) E.g.:
> Glossary by <A REL="Join(Glossary,Author)"
> HREF="">John Doe</A>

Ah I see. I like that actually.

> > Meanwhile, bear in mind that 25 years of hypertext
> > research has proven the value of naming links with simple
> > strings determined by the author, with NO semantics...
> Any good references?

Dozens. I have a cubic foot of papers, in fact I believe it contains nearly
every word written on hypertext and hypermedia prior to 1989. However the
HCI references kept at Ohio-State have a far more extensive up to date list.
(Sorry I don't have the URL but last I saw it was at .?

>The problem is that ad-hoc RELs with no
> semantics are what we have now -- and the result is that hardly
> anyone uses REL.

Another explanation: authors are not encouraged or taught to use it,
as the browsers do not (reliably) show the REL of a link to another,
even as an option (NoteCards browsers *did*, and everyone used them).

>Well-defined semantics for at least some values of
> REL would begin to make it useful, and then it just might be taken
> seriously by document authors.

I disagree. Standard semantics only get in the way. The strength of
the REL mechanism is the ability to build a completely custom set of
link types that match the structure of the document... I agree that
this makes automatic processing harder (although far from impossible)
but at some point you have to decide if you are writing for computers
(and require a small standardized list of well-defined types) or for humans
(and thus require an infinitely-extensible list of linguistically-defined
types). I think those who view the REL as a convenience for automatic
processing of documents, something that should be seen only by the software,
are missing the point, and have misunderstood the semantics of hypertext.

Craig Hubley                Business that runs on knowledge
Craig Hubley & Associates   needs software that runs on the net     416-778-6136    416-778-1965 FAX
Seventy Eaton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4J 2Z5