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Subject: Semantic markup in HTML

[I'm changing the subject line here]

From: "Elliotte Harold" <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>

> For the same reason we probably shouldn't be using strong or em for any
> of these, except maybe replaceable. I can believe replaceable is
> emphasized. However there's no fundamental reason that a command is
> strongly emphasized. What's being done here is using the strong and em
> elements as font style elements. If you don't want to use CSS it would
> be preferable to use the genuine font style elements b and i, deprecated
> though they are, to misusing strong and em.

The last sentence is a key point: "If you don't want to use CSS ...". It has
been a long standing goal of the HTML stylesheets to produce well formatted
output even when a CSS stylesheet is not used.  But many people want clean
(semantically marked up, or style-free) XHTML so their CSS stylesheet
doesn't have to fight the inline styles. I think we should have a stylesheet
parameter that explicitly selects style-free output that is intended to used
with a CSS stylesheet. I actually don't think there are that many cases in
the stylesheets where the parameter would be needed, but it would help us
clean up the last bits of style usage in the HTML output.

With that parameter set, then some of the inline elements that don't fit
neatly into one of the HTML semantic elements can just be output as spans
with a class, and it is the responsibility of the CSS to handle the styling.
Even when semantic HTML elements are used, they should still get a class
attribute from the DocBook element the way they do now.

Bob Stayton
Sagehill Enterprises
DocBook Consulting

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