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   RE: In praise of tidy [was: Re: Conversion of existing web pages from HT

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  • From: "Bruce, Ian" <ian.bruce@theso.co.uk>
  • To: "'Peter Murray-Rust'" <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>, ",XML-Dev List" <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 11:23:18 +0100

If anyone is interested I have written a perl/tk wraper around tidy which
allows you to select the start dir and will then "tidy" all files from that
If anyone wants a copy email me.

> Ian Bruce
> Electronic Publishing
> The Stationery Office Ltd
> Tel: 01603 695045
> Fax: 01603 696501
> http://www.tso-online.co.uk
> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Peter Murray-Rust [SMTP:peter@ursus.demon.co.uk]
> Sent:	Friday, April 28, 2000 10:07 AM
> To:	,XML-Dev List
> Cc:	h.rzepa@ic.ac.uk
> Subject:	In praise of tidy [was: Re: Conversion of existing web pages
> from HTML]
> At 10:12 PM 4/27/00 +0800, Rick JELLIFFE wrote:
> >Kiat Soh wrote:
> >> 
> >> I am wondering if there's anyone who tries converting
> >> the existing HTML pages to XML and XSL.
> Many thanks for your question, Kiat - it has stimulated some very valuable
> discussion.
> >
> >The place to start is to use Dave Ragget's tool "tidy" which
> >can clean up HTML, create CSS, and generate XHTML pretty well.
> >I recommend running the data twice through it to really get the
> >funnies removed.
> May I also take this opportunity to congratulate Dave Raggett on his tidy
> program. I believe it has done more to promote the idea of re-use than
> almost anything else. Some additional points:
> tidy is freely avaiable on a wide range of platforms. It has been
> integrated with other tools to provide GUI-based systems including editors
> tidy has a virtual community which keeps it up-to-date - there are very
> regular releases and "all bugs are shallow".
> tidy not only produces well-formed HTML but does its best to produce HTML
> conformant with one of the myriad HTML DTDs. If the DTD is specified tidy
> will use that as a starting point - if not it will guess the most likely
> tidy will delete or modify elements and attributes that are inconsistent
> with the assumed DTD.
> tidy will deliberately throw errors or warnings about bad style. These
> include 
> 	(a) hardcoding formatting markup (FONT, color, etc.) and will
> instead add
> class attributes for use by a stylesheet 
> 	(b) failure to include accessibility attributes (img@alt,
> table@summary). 
> tidy can output HTML asxml, and produces formatted empty elements that
> will
> parse as xml but not break browsers
> Therefore in a relatively painless manner, tidy ensures that an HTML page
> can be read by others without information loss. This - after all - is what
> XML is all about. So IF we urge everyone to make their HTML pages
> tidy-compatible we shall have increased the re-use of the information on
> the WWW by terabytes. As simple as that.
> tidy is also an excellent way of learning about XML if you know HTML.
> Henry
> Rzepa and I are doing exactly that and have made tidy one of the key
> approaches in out VirtualXML ConCourse (to be announced RSN).
> The main issues in converting "HTML" to XML would seem to be:
> 	- can I produce *my* HTML so that *I* can re-use it? Obviously you
> should
> create XHTML.
> 	- can I create *my* HTML so that someone else (with whom there is no
> prior
> agreement) can re-use it? 
> 	- can I re-use some other person's HTML?
> Note that in many sectors, publishers of HTML *want* the world to re-use
> their published material. HTML per se is rather weak - the use of H1-6 as
> "structuring" components makes it extremely difficult to extract the
> document structure. However if the documents are XHTML there is still lot
> that can be done. Here's a simple but powerful example:
> 	"Find images of molecules on the WWW".
> With bad HTML there is nothing that can be done. But with tidy-ed XHTML
> you
> could reasonably expect that all images had an alt tag and those *might*
> include the substring "molecule", e.g:
> 	<img src="fig32" alt="picture of aspirin molecule" />
> Retrieve the alt attribute values and search for the substring "molecule".
> Or even search the content of the containing element. In this way it would
> be trivial to identify all sites which contained pictures of molecules. 
> Chemists responded very rapidly to the idea of chemical/MIME that Henry, I
> and ben Whittaker promoted. I am confident that if we published this idea
> tomorrow, a number of sites would start using it profitably.
> Another very powerful way that HTML can be used is through the <div>
> elements. I have now taken to writing HTML like:
> <div class="chapter" title="Drugs">
>   <div class="section" title="beta-lactams">...
>   </div>
> </div>
> With the use of CSS only (i.e. not even XSLT) this can be made to display
> as if it contained H2 and H3 elements, but moreover contains complete
> structuring information which can be searched, re-used, transformed, etc.
> I
> suppose the reason it isn't commoner is because you have to do some
> document design (i.e. thinking) before writing. But presumably authoring
> packages could be made to output this if there was demand. Again a
> virtually cost-free solution.
> This is an example of the human factor in XML - often forgotten in the
> Schema discussions. It's a simple, cost-free, exercise that would
> dramatically increase the value of published information for those who
> believe that XML is a tool, not a weapon.
> 	P.
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