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Re: Politics: Strict Guidelines Considered Harmful

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2000 16:27:08 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200012221627.eBMGR9t10099@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Kynn wrote:

> Why?  Because I feel that the portions of CSS which correspond to
> the <font> tag are pretty much indistinguishable from <font> from a
> "big picture" view.  They are specific technologies which can be
> used with certain browsers to get certain effects.

This tends to be true of authoring tools which translate font into
span, but the fundamental differences are:

- indirection - CSS allows one to define the formatting once, and 
apply it everywhere that is relevant - I believe it is a fairly 
fundamental design rule that one should apply typography, etc.,
consistently;

- CSS can be applied to any element, which should make it easier to
mark up strong text as strong and still give it a distinctive style.

Indirection is difficult for people to grasp, but the ability to
understand it is one of the things I would hope would distinguish a
professional designer from the many people straight out of school or
college who seem to set themselves up as web site "designers".

If there are designers who can only think visually/spatially, HTML is a
completely wrong tool for them - I've often said that PDF is a much better
tool for that design style, although even that requires some knowledge of
the medium.  However, commercial design, in my view, requires that the
designer must have language skills as well as visual-spatial ones (this
is one of the things that can distinguish commercial art from fine art),
and the little I've seen written for graphic designers suggests that
they are encouraged to make style rules explicit, even when using ink
and paper.

One of the values of HTML/CSS is that it forces a seperation between
language and visual elements.  Without this constraint, many people
practising web page design would not produce the structure in the machine
readable versions of their design that is necessary to allow it to
be experienced in any other way than as high resolution images.  I'd
argue that that is the real difference between HTML and PDF as a medium.
Unfortunately, many authoring tools attempt to hide some of the separation.

The problems with font don't arise with designers committed to accesibility,
but rather with the average web page author.
Received on Friday, 22 December 2000 13:21:01 GMT

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