[uf-new] [Fwd: Re: [uf-discuss] Re: Precise Expansion Patterns]

Paul Wilkins pmw57 at xtra.co.nz
Sun Dec 16 17:43:47 PST 2007

On Dec 17, 2007 2:12 PM, Martin McEvoy <martin at weborganics.co.uk> wrote:
> > Any misuse of the VAR element will affect how they are to be presented.
> > Consider what will happen when proper use of the VAR element is
> > intermingled with other use of the the VAR element as a design
> > pattern.
> I am not misusing it?
> Paul why do you make me work so much? :) ...

Because these standards are not to be fiddled with.
VAR elements are typically styles in italics, and depending on your
styles it can be anything from virulent green to preformatted text, to
help denote the variables you are referring to.

> Although html 1.0 never really existed as a standard since then
> <var> is defined as simply A variable name.
> http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/draft-ietf-iiir-html-01.txt
> As far as I know <var> hasn't changed since then.

The XHTML2 specs gives the following example:
    The parameter <var>ncols</var> represents the number of colors to use.

And the HTML5 specs provide the following example:
<p>If there are <var>n</var> pipes leading to the ice cream factory
then I expect at <em>least</em> <var>n</var> flavours of ice cream to
be available for purchase!</p>

> <var> is regarded as a Metasyntactic variable
> http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/manual/texinfo/html_node/var.html
> http://www-fs.informatik.uni-tuebingen.de/~hunszing/QuickRef.html

You didn't provide the QuickRef information from HTML 1.0
    for a ``metasyntactic'' variable, where the user is to replace the
variable with a specific instance. Typically displayed in italics.

The wikipedia article about metasyntatic variables says
    A metasyntactic variable (pronounced /ˌmɛtəsɪnˈtæktɪk ˈvɛəriəbl/)
is a placeholder name, or an alias term, commonly used to denote the
subject matter under discussion

It also says about them
    it has been plausibly suggested that the real reason for the term
metasyntactic variable is that it sounds cool

> yes it has proved to be useful in programming but that is not its sole
> purpose, all it means is this is the bit we want to do something
> with...?

In all cases of a variable, the purpose of a variable is to be
replaced with a specific instance.

The Wikipedia article helps to boils this down.

There are three specific domains for variables:
- computers and maths
- physical sciences and engineering
- statistics

It then goes on to state that in general
  Variables are used in open sentences. For instance, in the formula x
+ 1 = 5, x is a variable which represents an "unknown" number.

2:23 is about as far away as we can get from an unknown number.

You're going to have a very large uphill battle convincing anyone that
the duration of 2 minutes and 23 seconds is a variable.

Paul Wilkins

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