Departing from separation

May 1 2005

Last Friday, Molly posted the question p or pre? in which she ponders about the proper semantic markup for a poem in which linebreaks are essential. Should the piece be a paragraph, or pre-formatted text?

The reason it is hard to find the proper semantic markup in this case (which isnt even one of the most difficult cases, but is one that clearly illustrates the problem) is because of a very fundamental point: content and presentation cannot always be separated.

Some years ago, the www overlords concluded that separating content and presentation (and behaviour, etc.) is a good thing. I testify to this theory, and its what I preach on a daily basis. However, I think that some of us [web-savvy elitists] have been approaching the concept a tardy bit too dogmatic. There are many very good reasons to separate presentation from the content, but theres also bad reasons.

Some of the main good reasons:

Bad reasons:

The web is all about communication, and you must do whatever it takes to get your point across as clearly and efficient as possible. Text-replacing images, inline style rules, and presentational markup elements such as b or i may sometimes be a necessity, and that is okay.

However whatever you do please do think of the kittens.



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