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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: Paul Prescod <paul@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 09:24:25 -0500

Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
>   A Web
>   of XFO documents can be compared to a Web of HTML documents with only
>   FONT and BR tags. 

Not quite: XFO has a concept of "list" and paragraphs are indicated
through containers, not line breaks. I think that if you look at the
element types in wide use on the Web, formatting objects are not far down
the abstraction ladder from HTML. In your document, for example, most
element types are not very semantic. The only element types in it without
FO equivalents are EM, H?, META and LINK.

It is interesting to note that HTML does not allow you to label your
footnotes semantically.

> Publishing semantically rich XML should be encouraged when the 
> semantics is globally known, e.g. MathML. Publishing arbitrary
> XML should be discouraged. 

Are you saying that we should give up all of the bandwidth, performance
and functionality benefits of shipping arbitrary XML to the client?


I would suggest that the solution to the identified problem is for XFOs to
move up the abstraction level to a little beyond HTML (i.e.
HTML+footnotes+headers+footers, etc.). The right level of abstraction is
pretty well documented in common word processors: they all have concepts
of footnotes, headers, paragraphs, heading levels, cross-references, etc.

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself

If you spend any time administering Windows NT, you're far too familiar 
with the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) which displays the cause of the 
crash and gives some information about the state of the system when 
it crashed.  -- "Microsoft Developer Network Magazine"

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