[uf-discuss] [citation]: Brian's outstanding issues 2:

Michael McCracken michael.mccracken at gmail.com
Mon Sep 25 17:35:17 PDT 2006

On 9/25/06, Bruce D'Arcus <bdarcus.lists at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 9/25/06, Michael McCracken <michael.mccracken at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I do agree that using an element with type class instead of a huge
> > number of type classes is the way to go here, to avoid class namespace
> > pollution.
> I actually don't like using the separate element, in part because this
> information is usally not displayed, but rather used for processing
> (styling and conversion). The type does matter for display, in other
> words, but in more subtle ways that have the user see "book."

I know what you mean - the type matters in how you format the
reference, but it isn't usually displayed. This is something we'll
have to hammer out. Right now it looks like a tradeoff between
flexibility and elegance, but I'm hoping for a solution that combines

Also, when I thought about it, in many cases where the reference is a
search result or otherwise not part of a specifically formatted
publication, I wouldn't mind the extra word explaining exactly what it

> Before we settle this, can we go over the technical arguments against
> using classes? I know, for example, that Tantek once said it's not
> generally good practice to double up classes ("hcite book") but I'd
> like some explanation about why.
> But I will say that in either case, one must allow for extensions.
> I've worked on this for a long time, and defining a fixed list of
> types that is anything but arbitrary is pretty much impossible.

I'm not aware of the arguments for/against doubling up. Are you
referring to this:

The problem I have with using class names to encode the type of a
reference is that we end up having a new class name for every type of
reference, which as you say is large and arbitrary, and might be
considered infinite for any practical purpose. This seems like we're
claiming a very large and perpetually undefined set of class names as
potential citation type names, which violates the "minimal vocabulary
principle" that Gazza mentioned earlier:

While that principle isn't fully explained on the wiki, I'd say it's
pretty clear that even if we didn't allow arbitrary new class names,
we'd still be forced to propose a long list of new class names to
cover all the types of cited items.

On the other hand, I can imagine wanting to use CSS to display an icon
for a book next to a book's reference, or a journal icon for an
article. Many current sites do something like this. That's easy enough
with class="book", but I'm not familiar enough with CSS to know if
that's possible based on the content of an element. I suspect not. Can
any CSS experts chime in?


Michael McCracken
UCSD CSE PhD Candidate
research: http://www.cse.ucsd.edu/~mmccrack/
misc: http://michael-mccracken.net/wp/

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