W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 2000

Re: inline CSS (was: is anyone interested in XHTML?)

From: Murray Altheim <altheim@eng.sun.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 17:42:33 -0800
Message-ID: <38B1E989.E2B7EF97@eng.sun.com>
CC: www-html@w3.org
Håkon Wium Lie wrote:
> Also sprach Murray Altheim:
>  > > far far ahead.  and better for *usability* too, since CSS styling provides the
>  > > user a mechanism to override with a user style sheet, which plain default HTML
>  > > (or any markup for that matter) rendering does *not*.
>  >
>  > What nonsense. I keep hearing that, but CSS1 and 2 both have *author* as
>  > priority, not user, so this runs completely counter to what would help
>  > accessibility.
> As several people have pointed out, you're wrong on this.

I wrote what I still believe is correct. Apart from !important, the cascade
rules are exactly as I quoted them from the specs. The fact that !important 
exists doesn't mean that this newly-minted scheme works, which was my point. 
The fact that it is exactly opposite of CSS1's previous behaviour *might* 
seem to some a problem; apparently not to those promoting CSS. 

!important fails in that it requires that a user somehow has available on 
their machine a stylesheet tailored to their particular needs, that this 
stylesheet somehow can override the author's stylesheet (which means that 
it can magically attach to any document, no matter which ML), that they
somehow would have previous access to the document's markup in order to 
know *what* to override, and that the tools support this functionality 
(none of the ones I use do). With XML's lack of fixed vocabulary this is
clearly useless, and with XHTML, one would still need to be assured that 
the document was XHTML with no extensions, as those extensions might be 
unknown to any user browsing the web. You could have stuff disappearing 
off the screen (like all the MathML or SVG) without any user knowledge 
of this happening, unless every time they hit a document all the unknown 
markup would somehow be identified and the software/user would react to 
it correctly. Yeahhh, right. And people think *I* live in a fantasy world.

The solution is so fragile it's hard to imagine it ever working. The fact that
someone is able to demonstrate that it *could* work hardly means that suddenly
people are going to start investigating the markup of the documents they're
browsing and writing their own CSS2 and CSS3 stylesheets whenever they hit a
new web page they can't read. Even if they were so inclined to investigate,
they wouldn't necessarily even know there's a problem. 

>  > I clearly see a pattern of CSS people doing whatever they can to proliferate
>  > CSS into every damned spec coming out of the W3C,
> I find your language offensive. W3C is naturally interested in reuse
> and synergy between its specifications.

I don't think forcing a vector graphics specification to use styling is 
exactly "reuse", and the presence of the SVG minority report would tend 
to confirm my opinion. As for taking offense, I promise not to use the word
'damned' again (or was it 'proliferate'?). I'm just calling it as I see it
following over six months of discussions with other vendors' representatives
who happen to dislike how this has been handled. I don't happen to feel it's 
appropriate for the staff members of a consortium to have so much influence 
over the opinions of the membership, indeed to be lobbying within the 
consortium for the survival of a technology that some who might be considered
experts do not feel is at all appropriate to XML. But I'm sure you guys are 
doing everything possible to make it appropriate, as fast as possible.

If Adobe and Microsoft want this, I can see arguing with them as fellow members,
but why should we have to argue with the W3C staff chair? But this is of course
a stupid process argument, because the situation is endemic to the W3C and it's
difficult to imagine this changing. I've long ago given up expectation of a 
level playing field.
>  > even so far as to corrupt
>  > XSL FO by reducing it to some common denominator of FO and CSS.
> You obviously were not present when the decision to align XSL FO with
> CSS was made.

No, but I know of several people who were and consider it a corruption. I've
also read the mail archives.
>  > Is there
>  > some religous affiliation or stock options based on CSS or something? It's
>  > like some mold that one can never clean out of the shower.
> Perhaps people just like it?

And there's a lot of people who don't like it. When do you think we should 
start actually walking the walk that the W3C itself has promoted over the 
past few years? XHTML 9.0? The point of XHTML 1.1 is to begin to move away 
from all this presentation markup in favour of using stylesheets, which 
your group actually promotes. If you want to use inline styling, use HTML 4.0
or XHTML 1.0; nobody is stopping you. If you want to use all those legacy
features, go build a markup language using the Legacy module. XHTML 1.1 
doesn't include everything everyone wants. No frames! Ack!

> I believe you should listen to the feedback from this forum and make
> sure the STYLE is present in XHTML 1.1 and future specifications.
> Having it in a style module along with the STYLE elment and the CLASS
> attribute makes sense to me.

There's a vocal feedback on both sides of the aisle, and I expect there
always will be.  I've heard all manner of argument for and against frames,
too. I always expect that you and Chris and Bert are going to argue in 
favor of inline styles, just as we all did in 1995. You guys always seem 
to gloss over all the problems that this implies for WAI, i18n, and now 
document transformations. 

And beyond all this, it's not up to me. It's up to the entire HTML WG,
and we have already put forward our decision, so 'escalate'. Put up your
dukes, man! Let's fight this out between WGs, fisticuffs-style. Parry,
thrust, jab. I mean, really. I think we've now heard from just about 
everybody on the CSS working group. Well, not everyone, but I'll give 
it another few days.


Murray Altheim                            <mailto:altheim&#x40;eng.sun.com>
XML Technology Center
Sun Microsystems, Inc., MS MPK17-102, 1601 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025

   the honey bee is sad and cross and wicked as a weasel 
   and when she perches on you boss she leaves a little measle -- archy
Received on Monday, 21 February 2000 23:03:17 UTC

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