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

Richard Dobson richard at dobson-i.net
Thu Sep 2 13:21:22 UTC 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Byron Ellacott" <bje at apnic.net>
To: "Jabber protocol discussion list" <standards-jig at jabber.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 1:43 AM
Subject: Re: [Standards-JIG] Re: JEP-0071 XHTML-IM lack of scope

> Peter Saint-Andre wrote:
>> In article <4133C19D.2020606 at apnic.net>, Byron Ellacott <bje at apnic.net> 
>> wrote:
>>>the <em/> element is not about italics, it's about emphasis.
>> Indeed it is:
>> http://www.saint-andre.com/elegant-html/1_09.html
> I'll use these terms from here on, to keep things clear.  I generally 
> prefer "structural markup" versus "presentational markup" since that 
> suggests, to me, that they do different things that sometimes have the 
> same effect.
>>>The main reason XHTML seems like a bad fit
>> A bad fit for addressing the requirements of lightweight text formatting?
> Yes.
>>>is you specify a relatively small subset of XHTML to use, and for the 
>>>things which aren't available in XHTML, you specify a very small subset 
>>>of CSS to use, which includes font-weight and font-style.
>> Is this inconsistent in some way?
> No, it's just that XHTML overlaps the JEP's requirements.  There's that 
> bit missing from XHTML that a small part of CSS provides.  XHTML alone 
> doesn't quite fit, and CSS alone doesn't quite fit, and so you use both.
>>>Is it better for a client to generate <em/> or <span style="font-style: 
>>>italics"/> elements when the user requests italics?
>> This is addressed by Business Rule #3:
> [snip rule #3]
>> Now, we know that users (and even HTML authors) don't know anything about 
>> the distinction between logical and physical, because plenty of people 
>> still mark up their pages with <b> and <i>. But perhaps people are 
>> smarter than protocol geeks, and what they really wanted all along was 
>> bold and italics, not strong and emphasis....
> This is, in fact, what I'm suggesting.  If the user requests that a piece 
> of text is to be sent as italics, shouldn't the client use <span 
> style="font-style: italics"> rather than <em>, since the user asked 
> specifically for italics, not for emphasis?  This line of argument is, as 
> Rachel Blackman pointed out, just ideology.  It's pretty irrelevant. As 
> you said, it doesn't seem to matter that some people don't see <em> as 
> italics.
>> Perhaps removing the CSS features would make people happier?
> Probably not, since then you'd lose the ability to control most of the 
> appearance of the text - you'd only be left with the structural elements, 
> and those two oddballs, <em> and <strong>.
>>>One final example:
>>><span style="text-style: none !important;">
>>>   <em>What does this look like now?</em>
>> What does it look like in a web browser? Go here to see:
> It looks like I wasn't thinking when I gave the example.  !important 
> doesn't work like I was suggesting it works, which I should've known, and 
> I guessed at the wrong CSS attribute name and value, it should have been 
> font-style: normal.  Please ignore my screwups. :)
> The introduction you've recently added to the JEP to clarify its scope has 
> actually defined a broader scope than I was working with.  I was imagining 
> users selecting chunks of text to make bold, or bigger, or green, not 
> putting in headings, quotations and paragraph structures.
> I still imagine that will be by far the most common use.
> And in that case, XHTML is just getting in the way.  Consider what 
> information XHTML is adding in this example:
>  <body xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
>   <p>She had the most lovely <span style="color: blue">eyes</span>.</p>
>  </body>
> First up, we've got to put in the <p> element, since the <body> element 
> cannot have inline elements as direct children.  Next, when we want to use 
> colour to 'subtly' tell our friend about the lady's eyes, we've put in an 
> XHTML span, simply as a container for the style.  In this bit of text, the 
> only important parts are the text, and the bit that says "color: blue."
> Since the XHTML's only purpose is to serve as a carrier for the real 
> formatting information in the CSS, it doesn't strike me as a good fit for 
> solving the problem.
> Now I'm going to shoot my own arguments down.  The JEP as it stands is 
> well written and effective.  It is currently working, and in my opinion 
> ready for real world use.  As such, I can't really recommend that you stop 
> using XHTML.  The fact that there are working implementations of XHTML-IM 
> (as far as I know, anyway) speaks strongly in favour of not altering it at 
> this point.  XHTML may be (in my view) a bad fit, but it /does/ fit in the 
> end.

Personally I think we should stop arguing about the relative merits of using 
<em/> and <strong/> as apposed to <span style="font-style: bold"/>, Peter 
has been in discussions with people at the W3C who say that our spec is fine 
as it is, who are we to argue with the W3C?. If they are happy with it then 
whats the point in arguing about this?, this all seems just a waste of time 
and bandwidth, cant we get back to the real matters at hand.


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