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Re: Removal of other semantic elements

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 05 Apr 2010 10:26:30 -0400
Message-ID: <4BB9F316.10503@w3.org>
To: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
CC: www-style CSS <www-style@w3.org>
Hi, Shelley-

CCing CSS list.

Shelley Powers wrote (on 4/5/10 8:24 AM):
>
> The real core of the proposal is whether it's better to attempt to
> create single purpose elements representing well defined and broadly
> used widget behaviors created using JavaScript and CSS. My contention
> is to do so will most likely fail, because whatever is created in the
> browsers based on HTML specs can never hope to keep up with the state
> of the art using the JS and CSS. And we developers and designers will
> only use whatever is state of the art.

That's demonstrably not correct.  Why do so many people still use HTML 
form controls?  Yes, many sites use custom controls from libraries, but 
I suspect they are in the minority, still.

There may be some designers and developers that prefer to use 
cutting-edge stuff on some projects, but that is hardly a universal 
attitude; please don't imply that you speak for all developers and 
designers.  And we should also be thinking of the content creators who 
are not professional developers and designers, and who use HTML only 
casually as part of their job.  These people are very unlikely to have 
the time, energy, and training to use jQuery and the like, but they 
would benefit from new form controls.

As far as "keeping up", how many form controls do we need?  How much 
more innovation is there about basic controls?  I don't see many new 
custom controls... just the same few that look a bit nicer than the 
native browser controls, and a few more that have become common enough 
to standardize.  I think HTML5 captures some of the most important ones. 
  If we find that's not enough, we can add a few more essential ones in 
HTML6.


> And we'll only use what we can control, style, design, and customize.

Your concern about styling is a real one.  So, rather than focus energy 
on removing these new controls, why not devote some time and energy on a 
proposal to the CSS WG on how to style all form controls, including 
these new ones?  There are lots of new CSS features being implemented 
which could be repurposed for that cause, like the corner rounding in 
the borders spec, gradients, animations and transitions, etc. 
Basically, any effect you can apply to create a "custom control" with 
the look and feel you want should be applicable to actual form controls.

What is needed for this is a detailed compendium of the various possible 
parts that any form control would be comprised of; for example, there 
were some proprietary Microsoft scrollbar-styling properties 
(scrollbar-base-color, scrollbar-track-color, scrollbar-face-color, 
scrollbar-highlight-color, scrollbar-3dlight-color, 
scrollbar-darkshadow-color, scrollbar-shadow-color, 
scrollbar-arrow-color) that I used on one of my earlier sites, and I got 
a lot of positive comments on it.  Naturally, not all UAs would have all 
the same parts in their own controls, but a defining a superset would 
let designers get at the vast majority of them (possibly as 
pseudo-elements, for ease-of-use with selectors).  A good place to start 
is to look at the various custom controls that script libraries define, 
and see what parts of those are stylable in each of those libs.

How much nicer for designers and developers would it be for them to use 
the CSS skills they already have to style their controls than to have to 
buy into one or more custom libraries to build them?

I expect this topic has already been raised (and probably rejected) for 
an addition to CSS.  But I think times have changed, and it's time to 
reexamine some of our basic premises about what CSS should be (and is) 
used for.  I don't see why the browser chrome should be inviolate, when 
it's such an important part of the look-and-feel of a site.


> Additionally, attempting to create as single purposed elements any of
> the widget behaviors opens the door for innumerable objects that will
> create significant problems and cost for developers, tool builders,
> content management systems, and yes, even browser makers.

Those projects that don't want to use these new controls don't have to. 
  Browser makers have already chimed in that they are willing to 
implement them.


>Frankly, I'd
> rather you all spent time making your browsers faster, better, more
> secure, than re-creating what we better can create using our favorite
> libraries.

That's a false dichotomy.  The individuals who are working on script 
optimization and security are unlikely to be the same set of people 
working on adding new form controls.

Regards-
-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, SVG and WebApps WGs
Received on Monday, 5 April 2010 14:26:34 GMT

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