semantic and the u tag

All this chatter about the ‘semantic web’ and ‘Web 2.0’. All this almost insane wittering in places about whether it should be <b> or <strong>, or if words are being <i>italicised</i> or <em>emphasised</em> – does anyone really care? Does it really really matter? But if it does, what happens to <u>the underline tag</u>?

It was always a link thing, but then people stopped underlining presumably because it looked ugly and we started to have hover effects instead. So what happened to the tag?

A google for ‘define semantic’ throws this up from the guy behind the web:

“The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” (src: http://www.semanticweb.org) (or somewhere close to there. I lost it)

I’m throwing that in for no good measure.

So… back to tags. I hear on the news that “he underlined his point”, I will read letters that do not use emphasis tags for emphasis but instead use VERY SCARY BIG LETTERS – so where on the web has the u tag gone and why has no-one underlined any possible moved elsewhere?
I like the underline tag. In fact I think we should have a double underline tag for really important ‘wag your finger at someone’ type stuff. (Yeah I know CSS can do it but that’s no fun). <du> double-u see.. not so hard.
I know it’s coming back somewhere….. but will it always be a link thing? If so, why not pedant more about that than the use of h tags? Maybe it is being discussed quietly in a forum somewhere (that hopefully isn’t that horrible ‘Web 2.0 green’ – you seen it too? Foul colour. I used to like it..) and it’ll return triumphantly.

Thing is, for me an underline is a finger point. An emphasis is a voice thing. A ‘strong’ would be a raised voice. An emphasis is a nuance, a ‘nod and a wink’, it can be subtle. An underline is not subtle. It’s a ‘Read it? Got it? Good’ sort of thing. If this ‘Web 2.0’ malarkey IS about doing things better – and not just by designing a standard for smilies (I’m amazed there isn’t one – and I know it’s been trademarked / patented / whatever) – then why not introduce a couple more ‘semantic’ tags?

Posted in WWW

5 thoughts on “semantic and the u tag

  1. You say CSS is no fun, well the point is that the tag should be semantic, not the visual style (well it should, but that is actually a seperate topic).

    The problem isn’t that U exists, but that there isn’t a semantic equivilent.

    Once, when I was being really OTT with semantic code, I actually set it up so that a strong in an em was underlined (using CSS), but that still leaves italic bold out in the cold for emphasis.

    Basically there needs to be a replacement tag.

    We have EM for EMphasis, STRONG for Strong Emphasis, and what is underlining for in text? Very Strong? Important? That’s what needs to be decided.

  2. I think we’re working off a false assumption here.

    Its only a browser default that is equivalent to , and to . They aren’t “semantic equivalents” (which technically doesn’t make sense). Its up to the site designer or end user (if they can be bothered creating their own style sheets) if they wanted to actually be underlined instead.

    (And I take the point that, semantically, we’re only given two options – emphasis and strong. But to have too many would get confusing and unfortunately the line has to be drawn somewhere.)

    What we’re really suffering from here is that, to stay compatible with HTML 4, browsers have default values for , , etc. The first thing I do in any stylesheet is define all tags ‘flat’ – no bold, underline, margin, padding, same font-size etc. That way I can build up my styles as I see fit. Personally, I wish there was an easier way I could tell a browser not to make ANY assumptions about my styles.

    What we really need to do is complete the move from HTML to just XML. That way we can define our own (preferably semantic) tags and, so long as we define styles for them too, have total control. In that scenario, if you wanted an underline tag, you could just create your own.

  3. [OK sorry, I included HTML tags in my comment and it threw the comment of whack! I’ll try again.]

    I think we’re working off a false assumption here.

    Its only a browser default that STRONG is equivalent to B, and EM to I. They aren’t “semantic equivalents” (which technically doesn’t make sense). Its up to the site designer or end user (if they can be bothered creating their own style sheets) if they wanted to actually be underlined instead.

    (And I take the point that, semantically, we’re only given two options – emphasis and strong. But to have too many would get confusing and unfortunately the line has to be drawn somewhere.)

    What we’re really suffering from here is that, to stay compatible with HTML 4, browsers have default values for STRONG, EM, Hx etc. The first thing I do in any stylesheet is define all tags ‘flat’ – no bold, underline, margin, padding, same font-size etc. That way I can build up my styles as I see fit. Personally, I wish there was an easier way I could tell a browser not to make ANY assumptions about my styles.

    What we really need to do is complete the move from HTML to just XML. That way we can define our own (preferably semantic) tags and, so long as we define styles for them too, have total control. In that scenario, if you wanted an underline tag, you could just create your own.

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