Re: Style Sheets for HTML

Chris Lilley, Computer Graphics Unit (
Tue, 31 May 1994 12:41:37 GMT

Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 12:41:37 GMT
Message-Id: <>
From: (Chris Lilley, Computer Graphics Unit)
Subject: Re: Style Sheets for HTML

Gavin "*Not* speaking for EBT" Nicol said (over on www-talk):

>  I would like to see HTML+ as the common thread, where is all else
>  fails, every server, and every client should understand it, but I
>  would also like it to be possible to have clients and servers who are
>  aware of more than one DTD, and more than one stylesheet.

Yeah. Yeah Yeah.

and also said:

>  How
>  would it know when a new chapter in a book began? H? elements are
>  used primarily for font effects in HTML...

Oh true. HTML is supposed to give you structure, yet it gives far less than many 
wordprocessors. What does an H1 mean? The top heading of one file, in practice, 
usually only one per file. Yet if I have several files that are chapters of a 
document, I typically use h1 for the document title and have a TOC list with 
links to the chapters. Each chapter then uses H1 for the chapter title, and so 
on. If you do not do this, you rapidly run out of heading levels. The problem is 
that hierarchies of headings need to go UP; not just down through sub heads, sub 
sub heads etc in a document, but up through chapters, books, collections, etc 
between documents.

HTML+ addrsses some of these concerns, and makes for a richer language. For 
example, I can now explicitly tag an abtract, rather than just nesting 
blockquote and italic ;-). There is also some support for making up your own 
tags (see Dave Raggets paper at WWW94 for this).

But having got a rich enough set for simple use (many of the people much of the 
time), perhaps we should stop there. Attempting to make a DTD that is all things 
to all people would be futile - have you seen a publishers DTD, for example?

On the other hand if you could put up arbitrary SGML, with a link to the DTD and 
the style sheet in the header, and if a browser (using the distributed flock of 
cooperating services model) hauls in an SGML parser to deal with it, that would 
be good.

HTML+ then would become a lingua franca, efficient because you don't need to 
send over the DTD, while richer DTDs could be used for documents where you do 
need the structure to be kept intact.

Chris Lilley
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