[xml-h] How semantic are links?

Bob DuCharme bobdc@snee.com
Sat Jan 18 00:09:16 GMT 2003

At 1/17/03 01:04 PM, Norman Walsh wrote:
>   <a href="somelinktarget">
>   <ulink url="someotherlinktarget">
>   <bibref ref="yetanotherlinktarget">
>In the former case, you might expect the user agent to "just know"
>that "a" is a link, the way HTML browsers know about them today.

For the purposes of argument, I'll ignore your first two examples, because 
I like the obvious semantic content of the bibref one. And I'll add a new 
one with different semantics:

<citation caseID="Roe.v.Wade"/>

bibref and citation have specific semantics, which include as part of their 
nature the fact that they function as links: they identify information that 
is related to a particular resource (in this case, the local resource, 
because no other is specified). They do so for different reasons, because 
of their respective roles within their document types. They both have the 
notion of linking as part of their semantics along with their other semantics.

>In the latter case, you'd be relying on transformation or some
>external link description to tell your user agent what elements are
>links and what their semantics are.

I don't need to be told that they're links; I know what a bibliographic 
reference and a legal citation are and the role they play as pieces of 
information. If I want them both implemented using the same *presentation* 
semantics commonly associated with links (for example, as a pop-up window) 
or with two different presentation semantics associated with links (e.g. 
one as a pop-up, the other as a "replace" link), then there's nothing wrong 
with specifying that externally. Keeping it external, in a stylesheet, is a 
good thing because I can use a different stylesheet with the same content 
to implement one as a sidebar on a printed page and the other as tiny print 
at the bottom of the page. In these cases, I suppose we are telling the app 
that they're links, but what we're really telling it is "apply these 
presentation semantics to these elements, because I consider them links, 
and these presentation semantics work well for links."

>In the latter case, you might even look at different things as links
>at different times, or on different pages even though they're written
>in the same schema.

Nothing wrong with that!

Bob DuCharme          www.snee.com/bob           <bob@
snee.com>  "The elements be kind to thee, and make thy
spirits all of comfort!" Anthony and Cleopatra, III ii
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