A Modest Definition List Proposal

Waylan Limberg waylan at gmail.com
Tue Apr 13 15:51:13 EDT 2010

On Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 3:21 PM, Tom Humiston <tom at jumpingrock.net> wrote:

> Found this unsent reply stuffed in my drafts folder...


> On 19 Feb 2009, at 6:48 AM, Michel Fortin wrote:


>> Definition lists are already some sort of specialized niche syntax within

>> Markdown and HTML: useful when you need one, but not something a lot of

>> people care for or even know it exists.


> Definition lists are suitable for many kinds of term/value pairings, and not

> just definitions, but I had no concept of DLs as a flexible and handy

> semantic structure until I learned CSS. CSS encourages one to consider a

> document's *structure* (its HTML elements) as separate from its

> *presentation* (the appearance of those elements).


> I now regularly mark up, say, each workshop in a list as a DT, with its

> details (description, cost, meeting times, contact info) as DDs. Other CSS

> users may prefer to use unordered lists or the like, and sometimes I do,

> too.


> Is my use of DL appropriate? According to [Russ Weakley][1]:


In this respect see the working draft for [html5][1]. In part is says:

> The dl element represents an association list consisting of zero or more

> name-value groups (a description list).

It's called a "description list"! They're not even called definition
lists any more. In fact, a number of examples on that page would not
fit the "definition" model, but are considered completely appropriate
for a dl.

True, markdown is currently not specifically intended at a html5 tool
(although it could be as valid html4 and valid xhtml are also valid
html5), but given that html5 is to a large extent just a spec
indicating how people and/or browsers are actually doing things, I see
it an an admission that "definition list" was a bad (too restrictive)
name for an otherwise useful feature.

[1]: http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/semantics.html#the-dl-element

\X/ /-\ `/ |_ /-\ |\|
Waylan Limberg

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