ProposedElements/CITE and cite

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Bringing CITE and @cite into Harmony

Precis: In XHTML2, any element may have a href attribute. Since href is global, would it not be logical to mandate use of the href attribute in those circumstances where the cite attribute is currently used: as a consistent means of pointing at a resource, thereby providing the author with a linking mechanism that endows the user with the possibility of reviewing the quote in context. Therefore, it is proposed that the cite attribute be redefined to contain human parseable information -- such as the source of a quote in plain text, in the manner in which the CITE element is used; while the href or src attribute would provide machine parseable information that facilitates hyperlinking from a Q to its source. Likewise, the globally available src attribute should be applied explicitly to the CITE element, so that an author can point to a standardized external reference profile for the resource encased in the CITE element. Finally, a for/id relationship between the Q element and the CITE element, which allows the author to bind individual quotes to a common source.

Full Proposal

Currently, the cite attribute of the Q and BLOCKQUOTE elements, serves an identical function as href or src, with the important caveat that -- currently -- the cite attribute is defined in the Hyperlink Module, wereas src is defined in the Embedding Module. This is appropriate, however, as a quote is an embedded snippet of text taken from one document and inserted into another. Therefore, since XHTML2 defines href and src as a global attributes, it renders the original function of cite, as defined in HTML4.01/XHTML1.0 and recycled in XHTML2, redundant.

Since href and src are available globally, why retain the cite attribute in its current form? Why not seize the opportunity presented by XHTML2's charter to make cite the attribute equivalent of the CITE element -- a means of identifying human-parseable citations of a work by title, author and date, as illustrated in the following example, which contains a quote from FDR's Third Inaugural Address:

<section role="main">

<q for="fdr3i" 
href="http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/exegesis/fdr-third-inaugural.html#fdr3ip36s1"
cite="Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Third Innaugural Address; January 20, 1941"
>In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong 
purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy.
</q>

<!-- ... -->
</section>

<section role="secondary">

<h id="biblio">Bibliography</h>

 <ol>
   <li role="contentinfo"><cite id="fdr3i" 
   src="http://www.fdrpapers.gov/fdr3i.html"
   >Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. Third Inaugural Address. Delivered 
   before a joint session of congress, January 20, 1941. (official 
   White House transcript)</li>
 </ol>

<!-- ... -->
</section>

Currently, asssistive technologies are capable of speaking the contents of the cite attribute when one is reading a quote or blockquote and has quote identification turned on; however, the utility of a URL to provide context and continuity are exceedingly limited -- a URI should be the course of last resort. An example has been set by assistive technologies' handling of images: if no alt try title if no title, use the src value. For cite attribute, the cascade would be: if no cite than speak href of src

Related Issues

RelaxNG for @cite