Re: <pre>

Brian Gaines (
Thu, 6 Oct 1994 13:10:29 -0600

In message <> writes:

> It should be noted that people who use desktop publishing software heavily
> (Quark, Word, etc.) have it drilled into them to *never* put line breaks at
> the end of the sentences, only at the ends of paragraphs. Now, conceptually
> asking them to end their lines with a hard break and beginning and ending
> paragraphs in <P></P> might not sound too hard to us, but to them it's
> like asking them to use a Dvorak keyboard. This actually came up in the
> realization by people here that typing long strings into TEXTAREA fields
> without line breaks is aesthetically pretty ugly and contrary to what
> most people are used to.

The logic seems back to front. Putting a <P> at the beginning of a paragraph
(the </P> is optional and rarely used) marks a para without line breaks
eaxctly as in a word processor. The original use of <P> at the end to break a
para was probably more natural but bad sgml.

TEXTAREA fields should always word wrap exactly as a word processor, and
are aesthetically, and in human factors, exactly what a word processor
user would expect.

The nice thing about html and forms is that they DO conform to what most
word processor users expect.

The semi-binary interpretation of <pre> is fine now that it is well-defined.
It will continue to confuse new users of html who naturally assume that
'preformatted' actually means simply 'preformatted', but will always be
essential to read the specifications carefully to use html correctly. It
is a precise programming language not a set of intuitively grounded


Brian Gaines Knowledge Science Institute, University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4