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Subject: Footnote title tags / visual classification

Hello all

I'm pondering how footnotes appear in HTML.

Some footnotes are just a reference to a source, whereas others include 
further material, e.g. a discussion which wasn't quite on-topic enough 
to make it into the main text.

A while back, I was reading a (printed) book where the formatting of 
inline footnote numbers differed for the two different kinds:  they had 
the "further discussion" type in bold, and the refs non-bold.  I thought 
this was ingenious and useful, because in most books I _do_ want to read 
the side discussions, whereas I usually _don't_ need to see the refs.

Well, this got me thinking.  In HTML it should be possible to go one 
better than that, and use a revealed-on-hover "link title" to give a 
clue about what's at the other end of the footnote link.  So the reader 
could hover over the link and see e.g. "Footnote: Discussion of 
[whatever]" or "Footnote: Source ref only", or however I had described 
it in the XML tag.  So they'd know whether they wanted to bother 
clicking on it.

Obviously I could already put title tags into my HTML manually after the 
XML->HTML transform - but I think it would be better if they could go 
into the original XML, which I consider the definitive version.  So I'm 
wondering if it's possible.  & I thought before I launch into trying to 
implement any of it myself I would confer :-)


1.  Is there anything like this built in somewhere already?  I'm 
guessing not, because I've just read the Footnotes chapter in Bob's XSL 
book and not seen it.

2.  Has anyone else already done a customisation along these lines, or 
something similar?

3.  I see that footnotes can have an attribute "xreflabel", "text to be 
used when a cross reference (XRef) is made to the element".  I'm not 
using xref here, so could I (mis)use xreflabel to hold the title?  and 
then change the XSL to use that and make it into a HTML link title?

Or, could I use "role" to hold the title?  (though that seems less 
semantically appropriate.)

I've seen in other contexts (e.g. <para>) that a "role" attribute gets 
rendered as a CSS class (v useful), but this doesn't seem to be 
happening by default here (perhaps because the class is already 
"footnote").  If it did, I could use that to toggle bold on & off in CSS 
(e.g. role="comment" vs role="source" & classes created accordingly).

However, in HTML, given the choice of one or the other I'd _rather_ have 
a hoverable title than a formatting class.

4.  Or would it a bad idea for some reason I haven't thought of?

That's about as far as I've got.  Comments very welcome!




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