Re: Fate of <P> [Was: Toward Closure on HTML]

Roy T. Fielding (fielding@simplon.ICS.UCI.EDU)
Thu, 07 Apr 1994 11:30:30 -0700

Dan Connolly writes:

> In message <>, Dave Raggett writes:
>>SGML allows you to omit end tags when specified by the document type
>>definition, as parsers can easily infer the end of the element. In this
>>case the next <P> tag implies the end of the previous paragraph.
> I suggest that even though this is doable, it is not consistent with
> current practice -- and I'm not talking about technical matters here.
> Much of the HTML documentation (NCSA's primer, CERN doc, etc.) says
> that <P> is a paragraph separator, not a paragraph container. I think
> this is the way 95% of the HTML authors see it in their heads.

While this is true today, I don't think that it makes any difference
given the way Dave has defined the <P> element in HTML+. All of the
current primers could be changed within a single day if people on this
list get it in their heads to do so. Given the rate of change on the Web
and the current lack of established authoring tools for HTML, I think
95% of HTML authors would be using <P> as a container within 3 months.
Furthermore, a simple script could be written to reformat most existing
HTML documents (a generic parser for SGML is unnecessary and less useful
because it cannot intuit the intentions behind the elements). Naturally,
some of the more "artistic" documents would require hand-editing, but
they are rarely conforming to begin with. I'll write the script myself
once I get done with my stack of current scripts-to-write (at least a
month's worth already). Hopefully, several other people will have already
done so by then.

> I suggest HTML+ use a new name for this paragraph container element,
> say PP. When folks mean paragraph separator, they can write <P>. When
> they mean container, they can write <PP>.

Sorry, but I think that's a terrible idea. It would give us two syntactic
forms for a single semantic structure -- that of a paragraph -- where only
one form is necessary. In addition, a <PP> element would be ignored by ALL
existing clients whereas using <P> as a container is already accepted by

....Roy Fielding ICS Grad Student, University of California, Irvine USA
<A HREF="">About Roy</A>