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Authoring and Design for the WWW
PRINCIPLES AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
Functional markup versus fixed formatting
- an important debate
The Web is in many ways in a state of flux. Its future
direction is unpredictable. Choices made now (but largely out of our control)
will dictate the kinds of documents we can make and use.
Prominent among the opposed choices is that of functional
markup versus fixed formatting. While this might seem only of technical
interest, the choice has a particular impact on work made for the Web. It touches
on issues of communication, information and design, and affects the decisions
we make about document strategies in Higher Education.
To produce a printed document using computers, we can choose a fixed format or a
functional description approach
To produce a printed document like the one illustrated, we
could take one of three approaches:
The fixed format approach
We can use the computer to indicate explicitly the visual
formatting to be applied to the various parts, for example, choosing a bold style
for the headlines: this is the approach taken by simple word-processing
The functional description approach
We could indicate the function of each element and
then as a separate process apply any specific visual formatting on the basis of
that functional description. This is the approach taken by mark-up languages
(and therefore by HTML, the Hypertext Markup Language for the Web).
A hybrid approach
Another common approach which is a hybrid of the
previous two is to use style sheets, in the way that page layout and more
advanced word-processors do. An account of what differentiates this from
HTML is given below (p37).
Virtual Environments Visualisation