[Standards] Questions about xhtml-im

Jeremy Bowers jbowers at barracuda.com
Fri Jul 18 14:52:43 UTC 2008

Jehan said:
> Of course, at the end, formatted text is presented to the peer, but
> this is formatting done according to the semantic, not the opposite!
> This is always the issue when people thought the "presentation" should
> go first and then by sending a formatted text to a peer, this one
> receives something unreadable with a completely different display that
> what expected the sender, etc.

The thing about semantics is that they don't exist in a vacuum; somebody had to intend them at some point. I'd suggest that when you said in your first message:

> -> You don't set text in bold or italic (which you can do with the
> style attribute), you emphasize them!
> -> You don't set a text with a bigger police, underline it and give it
> a different police, no you set titles, subtitles, etc.

That at least in terms of the IM users I deal with, people really *are* "bolding" and "italicizing". You can tell by that fact that if you shipped out an <em> tag and the receiving client "chose" to interpret that "semantic" as coloring it bright red for emphasis, you'd get a bug filed against both clients for handling "italics" wrong. And that bug report would indeed talk about "italics"; you'd never see a bug report about how "I went to emphasize some text, but..."

Making up semantics where there are none is as great a crime as failing to expose them, if not greater. Sending out the presentation tags is the semantically correct thing to do in a standardized rich-text IM context. If you're not in that context, do something else; you're off the xhtml-*IM* standard anyhow. See also requirement #1 of XEP-0071:

"IM clients are not XHTML clients: their primary purpose is not to read pre-existing XHTML documents, but to read and generate relatively large numbers of fairly small instant messages."

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