Re: <PAGE> proposal

Joe Budge (budge@mail.clark.net)
Tue, 2 Jan 1996 18:56:21 -0500


Message-Id: <199601022258.RAA25438@mail.Clark.Net>
From: "Joe Budge" <budge@mail.clark.net>
To: www-html@w3.org
Date:          Tue, 2 Jan 1996 18:56:21 -0500
Subject:       Re: <PAGE> proposal

Eric S. Raymond writes:

> This is a proposal for a simple extension to HTML...This proposal 
> addresse the other symptom.  There are many situations in which
> one would like to be able to break one file into multiple disjoint scrollable
> display extents...
> I therefore propose a new tag, <PAGE>.  When the browser encounters this 
> tag, it should fill the display area with blank lines to the bottom.  The
> <PAGE> tag should also alter the scroll-forward behavior of the browser so that
> the space created by <PAGE> expands during scrolling to fill the display 
> area until it is entirely blank, at which point the next scroll-forward 
> skips to-of-display to just past the <PAGE> tag.

I realize that I'm jumping into this waaay late, and apologize for 
being away for the holidays.  However the discussion to date has 
missed a few  key points regarding pages - whether they be on 
paper or screen.

First, a page is lots more than just a stopping point, as Eric 
proposed.  On the other side of a "page" line is a _starting_ point 
for the next logical grouping of information.  One of the most 
frequent uses for hard-coded pagination (eg: putting page breaks in a 
word-processing document) is to insure that certain information 
begins a the top of a page - which is visually the most important 
spot.

Second, the page break comes in two forms - the "hard" or "forced" 
break, which tells the computer to always separate pages here, and 
the "soft" break which, like the soft hypen, tells the computer "if 
you have to break, do it here."

Third, a page has internal structure.  Many documents have
consistent headers and footers which appear on each page.  These
are visually a part of every page.  The proposal for a <BANNER> 
element touched on this feature but neglected the footer.   Where
pages appear side-by-side, as in large display screens or printed
and bound documents, the headers & footers may be
mirror-reversed on the right and left pages.

Opinions:

In order to present professional documents, the HTML author needs 
control over pagination.  This can be accomplished by careful 
construction of files on a server, or by use of <DIV> and style 
sheets.  The real world has shown us that, for a variety of reasons, 
people don't use file organization to control pagination.  My own 
experience with word processor users shows that most people in a 
business or home environment  don't use "sections" or  "outlines --
the WP equivalent to <DIV>.  These features are used heavily
by power users.   Normal mortals  go straight for "page" because
that is a concept they understand without explaination.   Therefore I 
think that HTML needs <PAGE>.

By the same logic, it makes little sense to invent an element for 
soft page breaks.  These are real power-user gizmos.  <DIV> and style 
sheets are the appropriate place to handle them.

Part of controlling pages implies controlling headers and footers.  
The <BANNER> element could be used as a starter for this by adding 
the attributes ALIGN=TOP and ALIGN=BOTTOM.  Personally I'd
prefer to ditch <BANNER> and replace it with <HEADER> and then add 
<FOOTER> because I think that's easier to understand.

Regards,
Joe Budge

PS: In case some of you are wondering who I am, as this is my first 
post to this group - I've been designing software products for 
personal computers since 1979.  Some of the projects I've been 
involved with include AppleWorks, dBASE, and Paradox.  I'm currently 
freelancing.


------------------------------------------------
Joe Budge                        budge@clark.net