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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: Guy_Murphy@xxxxxxxxxx
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 11:36:06 +0100


To my mind the author is propegating a dangerous misconception of his own.

He is confusig data semantics with formatting semantics, The example he
gives is a very bad one... H1 may say a lot in terms of data semantic
(outside the HTML world even this is highly questionable, but I'll let that
dog sleep), but it says zero in terms of formatting semantic. What does H1
bring to formatting?

You might make the assumtion as does HTML that a H1 is block, big, and
bold.... why? In a main page rendering it might be, rendering a fragment in
which the H1is included for reference, H1 might be rendered discretely....
the H1 gives us nothing in terms of formatting, indeed one might consider
it to polute or confuse the formatting semantic.

FOs give us a very clear formatting semantic, that makes perfect sense
within their domain.

XML is for data semantic.

XSL:FO is for formatting semantic.... and should not concern itself *at
all* with data semantic.

It would seem to me that this is a basic underpinning of the whole XML/XSL
drive, and I'm amazed that the example was given at all.

I would also argue that this trend can even be seen in advanced web design
with authors throwing out all the HTML but for DIVs and SPANs, as the
legacy HTML simply has nothing to offer formatting.

As for your point of using HTML as a starting point is a "bad thing", this
has been discussed at length previously, and well considered, I don't think
I have anything useful to add to the achives on this matter. I think the
overwhelming consensus is that starting with HTML is a "bad thing" for many


xsl-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on 04/16/99 10:51:00 PM

To:   xsl-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
cc:    (bcc: Guy Murphy/UK/MAID)
Subject:  Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

You give an example of using CSS+HTML as an alternative to using
formatting objects.
    The result is:
      <H1 STYLE="font-size:1.3em; margin-top:1.5em; margin-bottom:0.4em">
         The headline
    The result contains both semantics and presentation. This is a good

But what is a bad thing (from my point of view a fatally bad thing) is
that if you start with HTML then you start with under specified and
browser specific default presentation for the elements. Unless my
understanding is faulty, the CSS only modifies these defaults.

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