[uf-discuss] Need a figure markup

Greg Elin greg at fotonotes.net
Sat Oct 29 06:45:53 PDT 2005

I want to be a bit provocative in my reply regarding positioning of  
photos, etc.

The core problem is not styling, but the scant treatment of  
multimedia in HTML itself. A core problem it is time to fix,  
especially on the verge of SVG.

Whereas HTML offers a number of tags for presenting text, HTML offers  
but a single tag for handling an image (<img>) and a two tags for  
multimedia objects that differ little (<object> <embed>). Whereas  
HTML offers tools for making distinctions between paragraphs, line  
breaks, bullet points, and sections of documents, HTML offers nothing  
to distinguish between a thumbnail and full resolution image. HTML  
gives something as sophisticated as footnote and caption for tables,  
but fails to include the understanding/manipulating of a caption of  
an image, or an author or copyrights of an image.  Overall, I would  
say tables get a bit better treatment in HTML than images or  
multimedia, but still not as much as text and document.

At this point in time, the industry has a much better handle on the  
conventions surrounding the inline inclusion of images, audio,  
animation, video's, advertising, etc., in side an electronic document  
-- or better put as part of the delivered markup source. Image maps  
and the alt parameter let us add links and a pinch of information to  
an image, but woefully inadequate compared to what we do and are  
trying to do at this point in time. Up/Down, Next, Previous are  
pretty standard conventions when navigating image collections. Other  
aspects of digital imagery is on the tip of our mainstream  
consciousness even if we are still groping for household names,  
concepts like: who, where, when, device, resolution, altered, pixels,  

What should that little thumbnail that accompanies almost every entry  
on news.google.com be called? What is the right term for a person's  
icon next to their forum post or in their IM.

I wonder if this is really just a question of better alignment, or a  
need to think about how images (and multimedia and (tabular) data)  
attaches, like footnotes, to our accumulating experience of how link- 
able electronic content works.

Greg Elin

On Oct 28, 2005, at 8:33 PM, Chris Messina wrote:

> Over coffee this morning, Ryan, Tantek and I discussed the need for
> generalized markup for figures like photos, tabular data, graphs and
> so on in blog posts.
> In particular, the way that images are typically rendered in a blog
> post by default leaves something to be desired (floating right with
> some margin helps tremendously but requires that styling to be applied
> inline or via theme/stylesheet).
> The WordPress theme Kubrick uses the classes "alignright",
> "aligncenter" and "alignleft" to handle these things, but those
> classes are hardly semantic or generalizable. What we need is a way to
> encapsulate any kind of figure and then use other microformats like
> hCard for citations or credit, Fotonotes and so on.
> Anyway, I thought I would throw this out there and see what the CW is.
> hFigure might be something to think about...
> Other ideas/comments/proposals?
> Chris
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