Re: ACTION re: HTML 3: Too many tags!
Fri, 28 Jul 95 11:15:12 EDT

I will preface this by saying that my suggested alternative is only that,
an alternative. It would enable a method for stylesheets to be based
entirely on semantic markup using a single attributed tag, leaving
physical markup to the document curator. Although in retrospect I think
it may still be a good idea to allow users to make their BOLD text
bright fuschia if they really want to...

> Ian Graham <> wrote:
>> (Murray Altheim) wrote:

[discussion of handling physical and semantic markup...]
>> I would turn this entirely on its head, given the current discussion. If
>> most source text comes from legacy documents, then physical markup can
>> continue to be created by conversion routines.
>> I would prefer instead that ALL logical/semantic/informational (depending
>> on your language) markup be a single element, with attributes providing the
>> semantic information (eg., VAR,DFN,EM,STRONG,ABBREV, etc.).
>> This would allow for:
>> 1. all sorts of subclassing (as per Benjamin, Paul et al's
>> discussion on the subject) based on content rather than appearance
>> 2. more consistent markup: all physical markup would be literally
>> implemented (bold tags for bold text), while semantic information
>> would be covered by one element.
>> 3. allow informational formatting to proceed according to stylesheets,
>> leaving physical markup solely to the browser as per the original
>> source document's display characteristics, unless overridden.
> Do attributes necessarily make composite semantic markup easier
> to understand? For example, consider:
> <SEM CLASS="author strong">Antoine St. Exupery</SEM>
> Does this mean that the strongly emphasized string is an
> author's name, or should it mean that the string is an
> author's name, who should be strongly emphasized? In this
> case, ordering of the attributes seems important.
> On the other hand, the string:
> <AU><STRONG>Antoine St. Exupery</STRONG></AU>
> would mean "the strongly empasized string is an author",
> while:
> <STRONG><AU>Antoine St. Exupery</AU></STRONG>
> should mean "the author is strongly emphasized".
> These different meanings are , to my mind, more clearly
> expressed through tag placement than through attribute
> values.


I've looked over your two examples and I really doubt we could *all* come to a
consensus on their extended meaning. If we were to break down "the strongly
emphasized string is an author" and "the author is strongly emphasized", it
would still be difficult to assess the alternate meanings. And given that
the final product of the two variants is theoretically the same in display,
it may be moot; but I do see your point. It just seems that you could use
the attribute ordering as easily as the tag placement, in fact it would be
much simpler to modify if necessary: <SEM CLASS="strong author"> to <SEM
CLASS="author strong">.

I do think <SEM> is about as good as anything, although I like Joe's
suggestion of <EM> a bit better, as IMO "semantic" is a much more elusive
concept than "emphasize", at least for those not as clever as all of us.
The question is, do we want existing browsers to <EM
class="foo">emphasize</EM> all semantically tagged 3.0 text, or ignore it
by creating a new element (ie., <SEM>)? I think that having all instances
of AUTHOR, ACRONYM, etc. hilighted would make things excessively difficult
to read. Many of these elements would be used by search engines et al and
not necessarily for presentation changes.


Murray M. Altheim, Information Systems Analyst
National Technology Transfer Center, Wheeling, West Virginia