W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > August 1998

RE: Style sheet and Netscape

From: Braden N. McDaniel <braden@shadow.net>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 19:40:23 -0700
To: "'Chuck White'" <lillyming@earthlink.net>, <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000601bdc01a$65aa6370$7422dbd0@bonezero>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chuck White [mailto:lillyming@earthlink.net]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 04, 1998 7:07 PM
> To: braden@endoframe.com; www-html@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Style sheet and Netscape
>  Braden wrote:
> >> Second, aiming for
> >> compatibility with other
> >> >browsers (under 4.0) is fruitless. If you want to use style
> >> sheets, write
> >> >valid HTML that would survive a "strict" 4.0 validator,
> and use style
> >> >sheets. That way, everybody can read your pages, even that
> >> cheese salesman
> >> >in Wisconsin looking at your site with a PDA
> >
> >This is, to put it mildly, naive.
> If it's naive to ask people to write HTML 4.0 compliant code,
> then why was
> the standard approved?

It's not. It's naive to suggest that everything will be ducky if you just
write standard-compliant code. Because the implementations have not fully
caught up with the standards. Sticking to the standards is a fine idea; it's
probably the best insurance against obsolescence you can hope for. The
problem is in nailing that moving target that is the subset of the standards
which can be reliably used in today's browsers.

> I had thought the intent of HTML 4.0
> was to migrate
> away from the insane attempts at trying to write code for 40 different
> browser versions,

HTML 4.0 is the most complex HTML specification to date. Because of that, of
the extant HTML specifications, it stands the *least* chance of fulfilling
this goal.

HTML 4.0 provides a better platform (when compared with previous HTML specs)
for persistent documents. But since it is more complex, it *will* take
implementations more time to catch up. And in the interim, we can expect
things to be *more* fragmented, not less.

(If HTML 4.0 is actually ever fully implemented, we will most likely have
forgotten it and be chomping at the bit for the features outlined in HTML
5.0 or some other XML-based beastie. :-)

> and the liabilities HTMl presents in
> styling scenarios.

Accommodating and displacing styling responsibility to stylesheets was most
certainly a design goal of HTML 4. But I don't see how this contributes to
interoperability. And in fact, in practice, it has detracted from it, if
anything. CSS implementations are so divergent authors have to find ways to
disable and enable style sheets only for certain browsers. Often the ways of
doing this are themselves dependent on non-standard (and therefore volatile)

> I'm not naive enough to think folks are actually going to
> write HTML without
> image and other deprecated elements. Still, my point, and
> I'll state it less
> cryptically this time, remains: if style sheets are
> presenting problems,
> veer away from them. At least if you're using someone else's
> resources.
> Don't get me wrong, I'm all for style sheets.

Certainly the best solution if you can afford to do without styling
information. But most applications on the Web these days don't fall into
that category.

> >Implementation deficiencies (WRT the
> >standards) ensure that not even strict HTML 4 can be
> guaranteed to work as
> >expected all of the time. And the same can be said for CSS.
> >
> >Braden
> Exactly. Aiming for compatibility is fruitless. LCD is still
> the way to go,
> until the browser powers cooperate, or one of them wins.

That depends entirely on who your audience is, and the life expectancy of
your application.

Received on Tuesday, 4 August 1998 22:33:42 UTC

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