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acronym - Proposal for re-instating

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acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:27 pm

Unable to find if this topic has been previously covered, I think it is plain wrong that the acronym element has been deprecated in HTML5 and should be part of its semantics.

A screen reader can emphasise (em) and stress the importance (strong) of words, just to mention a couple of elements that are used for better semantics. A designer can target these semantic elements and stylistically present them to offer better visual semantics.

Surely, a screen reader should do the right thing when it meets phrases such as, The SAS soldier visited the NAAFI to meet his fellow troopers from 'The Regiment'.

Here we have an abbreviation, an acronym and a definition. Each should be marked up differently and titled, 'Special Air Service', 'Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' and 'The name used, affectionately, by members of the Armed Forces to refer to members of the SAS regiment' respectfully.

A screen reader would spell out the letters 'S' 'A' 'S', say the word Naafi and possibly make use of the titles, especially for the definition; 'The Regiment'.

A designer could also stylistically present each of these semantics to visually identify them, if desired.

To complete our progressive enhancements, a JavaScript programmer would be able to parse the markup and change each of these into a link to Wikipedia for a free glossary of terms.

Obviously, you would need to make sure you got these the right way around, because you would not want to call an SAS man a 'sassy'! :oops:

This is just as, in fact more, important than some of the elements that are part of HTML5 currently; (i) and (b) for example.

It is hurting me and many others I have discussed this topic with, that we have lost the acronym element.

I have heard all the arguments for and against but none have convinced me that ACRONYM should not be one of the important elements of the HTML5 semantics.

Please do the right thing and rectify this error of judgement.

Thank you.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby JAB Creations » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:37 pm

Willabee wrote:ACRONYM should not be one of the important elements of the HTML5 semantics.


Your thread title is "Proposal for re-instating", so are you for or against? Proof-reading is important. :wink:

It has a legitimate use and if standards bodies don't want to do the right thing, we'll do it for them...call me crazy though I believe it's been done before.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby zcorpan » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:38 am

Willabee wrote:Unable to find if this topic has been previously covered, I think it is plain wrong that the acronym element has been deprecated in HTML5 and should be part of its semantics.

http://www.w3.org/Search/Mail/Public/ad ... rtby=score

Willabee wrote:A screen reader can emphasise (em) and stress the importance (strong) of words,
Do they, though?

Willabee wrote:Surely, a screen reader should do the right thing when it meets phrases such as, The SAS soldier visited the NAAFI to meet his fellow troopers from 'The Regiment'.
Have you tested what they do without any markup at all? Screen readers have access to dictionaries that can help them determine how to pronounce different words and abbreviations without having the content author jump through hoops.

Willabee wrote:Here we have an abbreviation, an acronym and a definition. Each should be marked up differently and titled, 'Special Air Service', 'Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' and 'The name used, affectionately, by members of the Armed Forces to refer to members of the SAS regiment' respectfully.
Why? What are trying to solve? Why should the definition of "The Regiment" be in a title attribute rather than as text inline?

Willabee wrote:A designer could also stylistically present each of these semantics to visually identify them, if desired.
That's fine, but you could also use classes for this purpose which allows you to go further than the categorization of stuff that HTML has (e.g. what if you want to style all subjectives etc in a sentence when teaching a language?).

Willabee wrote:To complete our progressive enhancements, a JavaScript programmer would be able to parse the markup and change each of these into a link to Wikipedia for a free glossary of terms.
If you want links to Wikipedia, why not put them in directly? Surely that's less work and more reliable than using an indirection as you propose?

Willabee wrote:It is hurting me and many others I have discussed this topic with, that we have lost the acronym element.
Just use <abbr> instead. If you need to style it differently or target it from scripts, use class="" to indicate what kind of abbreviation (there are more kinds than just "acronym" and "not acronym").

Willabee wrote:I have heard all the arguments for and against but none have convinced me that ACRONYM should not be one of the important elements of the HTML5 semantics.
Which have you heard?

For the record, IIRC, it was dropped because people don't know which of acronym and abbr to use and beat dead horses over the issue (i.e. wasting time in permathreads), different people pronounce the same abbreviation differently, the definition of "acronym" differs in different dictionaries (not to mention in different languages), people use the two elements at random so UAs can't usefully treat them differently even if they did anything with them at all, and it doesn't solve any problem that can't be solved in a better way (using a dictionary).
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:30 am

It has a legitimate use and if standards bodies don't want to do the right thing, we'll do it for them...call me crazy though I believe it's been done before.


I use it anyway. I am for it., obviously (We don't always have the time to proof read our quick comments). The only downside is that <acronym> is the only element that fails HTML5 validation for me.

Do they, though?


Don't they? If not, they should. It would make absolute sense if they did.

Why? What are trying to solve? Why should the definition of "The Regiment" be in a title attribute rather than as text inline?


Just trying to give an example. The important thing is the three elements have different semantics.

That's fine, but you could also use classes for this purpose which allows you to go further than the categorization of stuff that HTML has (e.g. what if you want to style all subjectives etc in a sentence when teaching a language?).


Adding classes is a disease called 'Classititus'. It adds weight to the page. Important in the mobile world.

If you want links to Wikipedia, why not put them in directly? Surely that's less work and more reliable than using an indirection as you propose?


Adding direct links once again increases the weight of the page. It's an effort to code in the markup. One line of jQuery automates the process of linking all my abbr, acronym and dfn to Wikipedia. Great use of progressive enhancement when JavaScript is available.

Just use <abbr> instead. If you need to style it differently or target it from scripts, use class="" to indicate what kind of abbreviation (there are more kinds than just "acronym" and "not acronym").


No thank you. For reasons expressed elsewhere in this reply.

Which have you heard?


People like you, who have failed to convince me otherwise. As is still the case.

For the record, IIRC, it was dropped because people don't know which of acronym and abbr to use ...


It is not an excuse to drop a semantic element because people do not understand the difference between spelling out an abbreviation and saying an acronym. Surely this is not rocket science? Even my seven year old granddaughter understands the difference.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby zcorpan » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:59 am

Willabee wrote:Don't they?

I'm not aware of one that does.

Willabee wrote:Just trying to give an example. The important thing is the three elements have different semantics.

If you want the spec to change, it is imperative to describe the problem you're trying to solve.

Willabee wrote:Adding direct links once again increases the weight of the page. It's an effort to code in the markup. One line of jQuery automates the process of linking all my abbr, acronym and dfn to Wikipedia.
Inline links are too heavy, but abbr+title+jQuery is not? A link is too much effort to code, but abbr+title is not? I'm not sure I follow here.

Willabee wrote:People like you, who have failed to convince me otherwise.

I meant which arguments, not which people.

Willabee wrote:It is not an excuse...

I was trying to state the reasons behind it being dropped.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:24 pm

I'm not aware of one that does.


http://webaim.org/techniques/screenreader/

Screen readers try to pronounce acronyms and nonsensical words if they have sufficient vowels/consonants to be pronounceable; otherwise, they spell out the letters. For example, NASA is pronounced as a word, whereas NSF is pronounced as "N. S. F." The acronym URL is pronounced "earl," even though most humans say "U. R. L." The acronym SQL is not pronounced "sequel" by screen readers even though some humans pronounce it that way; screen readers say "S. Q. L."

If you want the spec to change, it is imperative to describe the problem you're trying to solve.


The example you are making such an issue about was the <dfn> of 'The Regiment'. This does NOT have anything to do with want I want changed. That is, to add <acrynm> to the HTML5 spec. Let us focus on that.

I meant which arguments, not which people.


http://accessify.com/tools-and-wizards/ ... hy-use.php
Why Use the acronym and abbr tags?

Microsoft got it wrong back at IE6 days by not supporting the <abbr> tag. They have been criticised for this numerous times and us developers have had to find workarounds and hacks to try and make it function correctly in the real world.

I was trying to state the reasons behind it being dropped.

... and I am trying to state why it should not be dropped.

All I can say is ' Here we go again'. HTML5, and you, it seems to me, will be forever responsible for taking away the useful semantics of the acronym. This is an opportunity to do the right thing.

<abbr> Spell it out.
<acronym> Say the word.

Surely it's not a lot to ask and makes the elements very meaningful.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby zcorpan » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:47 am

My recommendation now would be to email whatwg@whatwg.org or file a bug.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:20 pm

I have sent an email. Here's my request summary:

Summary
Without getting into all of the discussions about what is an abbreviation and what is an acronym, I would like to propose the <acronym> element be added to the semantics of HTML5 with a clear indication of its semantic use;

<acronym> the word is spoken.
<abbr> the abbreviation is spelt out, letter by letter.

Nice and simple. Everyone should understand the semantics.

    That will avoid any confusion to HTML authors.
    Screen readers can use it to say or spell out the word.
    Designers can use these different elements to stylistically make the semantics obvious to visual users.
    There will be no need to add a class name to these elements for presentation purposes.
      Thus making the HTML author and the designers job much easier.
      In addition, the overall page weight will be much lighter. Which is very important as we go more and more into the mobile world with our web site designs.
    The title attribute should be encouraged for these elements.
      Visual users will get a tooltip in most browsers.
      Screen readers may make use of them.
      JavaScript developer could make use of them for progressive enhancements, such as a more elegant tooltip or to dynamically create links to Wikipedia for further investigation by a curious user.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby zcorpan » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:15 am

Thanks. I don't see your email in the archives, though. You need to subscribe to post to the list -- sorry for not mentioning that. (You can unsubscribe afterwards if you want, it's a high traffic list.) See http://www.whatwg.org/mailing-list#specs
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby JAB Creations » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:39 pm

I hope it works Willabee.

If some people don't understand the differences then either the examples don't clearly stress their differences or you're showing it to people who aren't qualified to make such decisions.

Mailing lists work funny and so when you post you may want to request direct email replies if you don't intend to filter out all of the incoming related email. It's an antiquated system but apparently some people like it. I think forums work better though. ;-)
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:42 pm

To keep this thread alive, I will add my correspondence with whatwg.

Willabee


> Please see viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5081 for
> the background of my request to have <acronym> added to the HTML5
> spec.
>
>
>
> *Summary*
>
> Without getting into all of the discussions about what is an
> abbreviation and what is an acronym, I would like to propose the
> <acronym> element be added to the semantics of HTML5 with a clear
> indication of its semantic use;
>
> […]

I just found <http://camendesign.com/code/using-abbr> where it is
suggested to use an abbr element without a title attribute to indicate
that the abbreviation “is unpronouncable as a word”.

<http://camendesign.com/abbr_redux> backtracks: “Do not use [abbr] on
initialisms that are spoken letter-by-letter”, “Only use abbr without a
title on initialisms that should be pronounced as written rather than
read out letter-by-letter”.

Is this acceptable?

--
Nils Dagsson Moskopp // erlehmann
<http://dieweltistgarnichtso.net>

Nils,

No.

The second reference, which is an update to the first reference, makes very good reading and a lot of sense. I could go with this but ...

It is not the spec. for HTML5. It is one man's view of trying to make <abbr> work. Other people/devices will interpret-ate <abbr> differently and have their own views of how to best implement the element.

Here is a statement from the reference:

'Because HTML5 removed <acronym> this is the only instance you should use abbr without a title to indicate to users and screen readers that the initialism should be pronounced rather than spelt out.'.

What if the <acronym> needs a title? This special rule, an <abbr> without a title (assuming everyone learns it), has lost its meaning and will not be said as a word.

I buy it that many abbreviations do not need to be marked up because they are obvious and people can find out what the meaning is elsewhere. I also can see great value in using the title to fit in with the flow of the spoken content but ...

Everyone would learn very quickly that an <acronym> is used when we want the abbreviation to be spoken as a word.

This would even fit in with the advice given in Kroc's article and he could drop the special meaning <abbr> without a title example.

Now Kroc would just use <acronym> by itself to fit in with his example. Every person/device would know to speak the word. Kroc would be happy and all his other advise would stand. Others could now use the title attribute with <acronym> if they so desire. The word would still be spoken and not spelt out letter by letter. We now have the correct semantic element to do the right thing. Everybody is happy. Especially me.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby JAB Creations » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:15 am

Do not forget that even if it's not in the HTML5 spec it's in older specs and you're not required to use newer specs. In example by using XHTML 1.1 I can extend XHTML 1.1 to use (X)HTML5 just fine while not dealing with the many issues such as the noscript element being incorrectly moved to the head instead of in the body where it belongs. Standards don't always get things right any way, for example collapsed margins is anti-intuitive and forces the use of padding to emulate margins correctly and no one has made any valid argument for it. So use both abbr and acronym elements, browsers will still (usually) render them the way they're supposed to be used.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby fulg » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:27 am

How would you mark-up these examples with your proposal?

  • "etc.": read in expanded version ("et cetera")
  • "m" (like in "10 m"): read in expanded version ("meter")
  • "e.g.": letter by letter
  • "jpeg": acronym, some read it letter by letter, some read it as word
  • "CSS", "SMS": acronyms, read letter by letter
  • "AIDS", "NATO", "UNO", "STFU": acronyms, read as word

A nice example (German, though) might be "FAZ": Some read it letter by letter, some read it as word, some read it expanded ("Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung").
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:36 pm

@fulg

"etc.": read in expanded version ("et cetera")

Too common. I would not mark this up. However, a screen reader could make use of a title attribute.
Expanding written forms into spoken forms
<abbr title="et cetera">etc.</abbr>

"m" (like in "10 m"): read in expanded version ("meter")

I would only mark this up if the 'm' was not obvious and might be mis-read as a different unit of measurement.
Expanding written forms into spoken forms as above
10 <abbr title="meters">m</abbr>

"e.g.": letter by letter

Too common. I would not mark this up.

"jpeg": acronym, some read it letter by letter, some read it as word

Do not mark it up. Now they can read it however they prefer.

"CSS", "SMS": acronyms, read letter by letter

No need to mark these up. They will be read letter by letter anyway. If not known, they can be looked up.

"AIDS", "NATO", "UNO", "STFU": acronyms, read as word

These would need to indicate to screen readers that they need to be spoken. My exact point, as to why we need <acronym>.
<acronym>AIDS</acronym>, <acronym>NATO</acronym>, <acronym>UNO</acronym> and <i class="slang">STFU</i>.
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Re: acronym - Proposal for re-instating

Postby Willabee » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:53 pm

@fulg

Just to expand, if I were introducing some of your examples for the first time and I felt it was not obvious what the abbreviation or acronym is or that it might be mistaken for another meaning, I would mark them up as follows:

<dfn title="Short Message Service"><abbr>SMS</abbr></dfn>

<dfn title="Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV disease"><acronym>AIDS</acronym></dfn>

This once again highlights the need for <acronym>.
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