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From "" <>
Subject Re: [OT] Abuse of div and span
Date Mon, 07 Aug 2006 18:19:27 GMT
> We must agree to differ - a pet peeve of mine is that people use HTML as
> a data structure language rather than as a page mark up language (cf
> TeX) :-) . HTML has absolutely nothing to do with data structuring [...]

-1 (to follow Mark's notation :-)

> The problem is that while HTML undoubtedly has some structural
> information such as paras, headings, lists etc., these are about the
> only ones it has. 

Not to forget tables, when they are used to represent tabular data. (Of
course, more often they are used for style purposes only.) Then there
are also structural inline elements, like strong, em, cite, code, etc...

> It also mixes in pure style constructs such as italic
> (which tell you nothing about the structure and why they are italic).

This is not true for modern HTML versions (HTML 4.0 strict, XHTML 1.0
strict, XHTML 1.1), which do not contain style constructs like italic or
bold. And I guess Jason wouldn't suggest to use i or b?

> To be really useful we need to have extra structural tags in the HTML
> such as author, date, version, footnote, inline note, citation ... 

Of course, many of those things would be useful in some situations. But
why should the lack of those elements prevent you using the structural
elements which actually exist? I guess for most typical web pages, those
existing structural are virtually sufficient to write good structural

> [...]
> btw I did look at Firefox output with no style and it looked fine. I
> agree you could not see the headings (they looked like paras) but it
> certainly was not unreadable. 

Ok, that's good for you. But with no additional effort, you could make
headings, lists, etc visible in this view. Such structural markup would
 also carry its meaning, if viewed in Lynx or on a mobile device without
CSS capabilities. And it'd definitely increase accessibility.

A good example of using structural markup, is implementing menus as
nested lists of hyperlinks. With no additional CSS, or when viewed in
Lynx, they simply appear as a textual list of items. But with a few
lines of CSS and maybe two Java-Script statements you can make them
appear as nice drop-down menus. (I used to have a link to a site where
this is demonstrated, but it appears to be broken.)

Sorry, for intervening in this off-topic discussion. But I do have an
opinion on this one, and I feel compelled to share it.


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