[Standards-JIG] Re: JEP-0071 XHTML-IM lack of scope

Tijl Houtbeckers thoutbeckers at splendo.com
Thu Sep 2 00:21:22 UTC 2004

On Wed, 1 Sep 2004 16:53:50 -0700, Rachel Blackman  
<rcb at ceruleanstudios.com> wrote:

> As a result, at some point, <strong/> and <em/> got co-opted as the new
> <b/> and <i/>, because they're standard elements.  Generally, even if
> you say 'ignore remote stylesheet' in your browser, <strong/> and <em/>
> come out as bold and italic in the default stylesheet of a given
> browser.  Yes, they don't mean 'bold' or 'italics,' and as you point
> out they have connotations in, for instance, text-to-speech browsers
> for the blind.  But the rush to avoid specifying physical markup either
> as <b/> or by specifying styles in the document itself has pushed
> people towards <strong/> and <em/> for bold and italics, because of the
> considerations above.  As you say, the usage is already pretty
> widespread.
> I guess if you want to get into this the question is whether XHTML-IM
> is intended to convey document /rendering/ markup (i.e., bold, italic,
> underline, font size and color) or whether it's intended to convey
> document /structure/ markup (i.e. 'strong emphasis,' 'emphasis,' and so
> on).  I've been going into this with the assumption that XHTML-IM is
> intended to convey the former, and uses <strong/> and <em/> only as a
> convenience for those who are embedding existing HTML formatting
> controls for displaying messages, since those pretty much always turn
> out as bold and italic under most HTML renderers.

I'd say the JEP is about "formatting". But formatting consists of both  
structure (<h1/>, <br/> etc. but also <em/>, <a/> ("this is a hyper-link",  
etc.) and style (CSS elements). There *is* a "good practise" that's  
recommended for this combination in the "browser" world; an HTML file with  
the structure (using <span/> and classes just like your examples), and a  
CSS file that defines the style. The question ofcourse is, is this  
appropriate for XHTML-IM? The JEP currently decides "no" (and I don't  
really disagree), and chooses to inline CSS instead.

Ofcourse all structural elements (headings, paragraphs, emphasis) also  
influence the style. That doesn't mean you should recommend a certain  
structure when someone wants a certain *style*, just because that  
structure *might* have the intended effect. So to recommend this in a  
JEP.. convience or not.. it still seems wrong to me.

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