Re: HTML+ Comments

Peter Lister, Cranfield Computer Centre (
Wed, 21 Jul 93 10:07:32 BST

> 6 I cannot recall the reasons why line break and hard space were requested.
> Given that they are needed (I have a hard time with line break):

I'm sure I wasn't the first to suggest something like this, though I
helped spark off a discussion a few weeks ago. I would really like
HTML to be able to format poetic verse and postal addresses nicely. I
also like the idea of semantic markup, and the last thing I want is
something which will be used to undermine this essential feature of HTML.

The line layout of a poem or a postal address is semantic information.
Poems are that way because they are poems. You could get a haiku on to
a single line of a browser by separating / the lines with / slashes, but

I think that
this looks
much better

(before any flames me, no, it's not a haiku, I can't be bothered to compose one)

Likewise, a postal address is laid out like it is because each line
represents a yet more general indication of location. That is semantic
information. I prefer it on separate lines. Others may want (or may be
forced) to reduce it to one line, but that's their (or their browser's)
choice. My address at the bottom of this email is a mixture, with the
last sections comma separated to keep the whole thing within 4 lines. I
don't regard that as correct; it's a compromise, and the kind of thing
that a HTML browser might be configuerd to do.

Suggesting markup in terms of a line break seemed like a better idea
(at the time), than requesting specific types of layout each with their
own tag, since HTML would then grow as everyone wanted their own
favourite e.g. <poem>, <postal_address>, <british_rail_timetable>, etc.
In hindsight, the term "break" was a bad one to use; I appreciate why
many people object to it.

So, in the light of recent discussion and the change to the <p> tag,
may I suggest that, if <p> is encloses paragraphs, we define values
which describe the nature of the paragraph (e.g <p postal> or <p
poem>), and then permits appropriate markup within the paragraph - such
as line breaks. That, or a variation on <pre> so that newlines in the
source HTML are still respected, but text displayed proportionally,
rather than mono- spaced. I suggested the latter to Dave Raggett some
time ago, but the former feels more semantically "right" to me. As long
as something along these lines can be done, I'm very happy to live
without a line break tag, entity, instruction or whatever.

Peter Lister
Computer Centre,
Cranfield Institute of Technology, Voice: +44 234 754200 ext 2828
Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL UK Fax: +44 234 750875