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Relation to DFN and VAR elements

author: Robert Burns

  • Defining Terms, Etc. (which lives on the HTML WG's wiki) is another proposal closely related to the present one. There the proposal recommends treating DFN and ABBR along with VAR in parallel, by establishing new elements for DEFINE and BLOCKDEFINE. These two elements provide a container for defining a term or defining the expansion of an abbreviation. Rather than relying on the all-purpose title attribute, the contents of these elements provide the expansion of the abbreviated form or term. One advantage to this is that the abbreviations can be expanded with minimal markup. No id attribute (nor any other attribute) is required on each ABBR element. All of the expansion and pronunciation information are provided in the DEFINE and BLOCKDEFINE elements which could be included in a separate site-wide or community-wide file.
<DEFINE abbr='Dr.' content='Doctor' ></DEFINE>
<DEFINE abbr='Dr.2' content='Drive' ></DEFINE>
<DEFINE abbr='St.' content='Street' ></DEFINE>
<DEFINE abbr='St.2' content='Saint' ></DEFINE>
<ABBR>Dr.</ABBR> Suess
wrote children's books.  He lived on Suess
<ABBR>St.</ABBR>, which
had been renamed in his honor; its previous name
being <ABBR for="a1">Dr.</ABBR> Doolittle <ABBR
"variantof='Dr.2' >Dr.</ABBR></p>

<p>Suess <ABBR>St.</ABBR> should not be
confused with Suess <ABBR variantof='Dr.2' >Dr.</ABBR>,
formerly <ABBR variantof='St.2' >St.</ABBR>
Patrick's <ABBR define='Place' >Pl.</ABBR>,
which is the site of <ABBR variantof='St.2' >St.</ABBR>
Harold's Methodist Church, whose pastor is the
<ABBR define="Reverend" >Rev.</ABBR>
<ABBR>Dr.</ABBR> Paul Bunyon, author
of <CITE>This Pilgrim's Progress</CITE>.</p>

Other attributes are directed towards solving the same problems as those proposed here, just with different names and values. In this approach the relative ease of editing is proportionally increased the more the author reuses the same abbreviation expansions.

The same abbreviations expansions could be defined — along with other definitions of TERM, VAR and PROPERN (proper nouns) elements in a separate glossary document in a similar manner as discussed above.

        <define abbr='Dr.' content='Doctor' />
        <define abbr='Dr.2' content='Drive' />
        <define abbr='St.' content='Street' />
        <define abbr='St.2' content='Saint' />

Related Wiki Pages/Issues

Some feedback on the abbreviated form categorization

I like the use of a single element of ABBR for all abbreviated forms. For the expressed-as attribute, I think it would be better to use the keywords: characters, word and full. It took me a while to comprehend that phrase was not referring to the string making up the abbreviation itself but instead the alternate full form companion to the abbreviated form. Since XHTML2 already makes use of the @ful(IDREF) attribute the keyword "full" fits well with that nomenclature. I also wonder whether it is useful to have the camcelcase and alphanumeric keywords for the types (as you raise in the text). I understand the desire to throughly span the possible abbreviations, but I think abbreviation, acronym and initialism are sufficient. The property that an attribute has of including alphanumerics and camelcase is discernible from the abbreviated form string (or the full form string) itself. Finally, it might make sense to include another keyword of simply abbreviated-form which is the default since that will make it compatible with existing content where the missing type may simply indicate the author hasn't provided that information. Robburns 21:41, 3 January 2009 (UTC)