What divisions and spans are meant for

Argh! I have a too many things to link to! I’ve decided to declare a moratorium on opening my feed reader or adding more bookmarks until I’ve cleared out some of these old, unclassified links out. Perhaps I’ll turn some of them into posts here, provided they inspire enough of a rant. Many of them are about web accessibility, design and programming techniques. That’s always good for some commentary.

For example, Gez Lemon wrote a good essay, back in the beginning of June, about the abuse of generic containers like div and span. I strongly agree. After reading the W3C‘s specifications, I got the idea that these containers, along with the id and class attributes, were meant to add more semantic meaning to a web document. But some folks, having finally been convinced that the using table markup for layouts is a bad idea, are now repeating the same mistake with inefficiently designed CSS and meaningless, micromanaging containers.

I suppose some of this is necessary:

  1. As kludges to get around poor CSS support in some browsers.
  2. As kludges to duplicate positioning tricks only possible with layout tables.
  3. As kludges to get a look that just isn’t possible in any other way.

So, with a rueful smile, I am willing to let some of it go. But some of this is just from ignorance, bad markup editors and generators or willful dismissal of the semantic idea.

I try to avoid using generic divisions as much as possible and, I can’t even think of a time I’ve used spans. When I do, I try to assign that markup identities and classes that have meaningful values that make sense in isolation and out of context. I think that’s what wiser heads wanted us all to do when they wrote the specifications back in 1996.

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