W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > December 2001

Re: frames for styling

From: Clover Andrew <aclover@1value.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 13:44:51 +0100
Message-ID: <D58B0195B58937489E89124469E57CA249DA6D@EX1.1value.com>
To: <www-html@w3.org>
Benjamin Rossen <rossen@iae.nl> wrote:

> Yet framed layouts are very attractive and useful 
> for keeping menus and logos in view.

It's perfectly possible to emulate frame layouts using
CSS2. 'overflow: scroll;' (or 'auto') creates a
scrolling viewport, and 'position: absolute;' can be
used to place it on the page. For simple 'keeping
menus and logos in view', 'position: fixed' does
the job nicely. Put together, you get far more power
and interesting possibilities for layouts than frames
can achieve. And it's easy to turn them off in a
print stylesheet, solving the printing problems of

The stumbling block is merely that IE on Windows still
doesn't support 'position: fixed', and doesn't understand
if you try to absolute-position an element by its
left+right properties instead of left+width or
right+width (and the same goes for top/bottom/height).
(Also Opera doesn't do 'overflow: scroll;'.) But there is
still a lot you can do with this sort of approach in
practice today.

Your proposal brings back the idea of separate documents
combined in one page. No matter how you implement
this, whether it be frames, iframes, or EFDs, doing this
immediately brings back all the navigation, book-marking,
linking and search engine problems you have noticed with
frames. There is no easy solution to this! You mention a
few workarounds for some of the UI issues, but there is
no reason the same strategies could not be used for
frames - indeed, some of them already are, as you say.

In conclusion, I find it hard to see the advantage of EFDs
over framesets as we currently have them. (The
disadvantage is clear: it would be another thing a
UA or spider would be forced to support in order to
make content accessible.) Frames are not a purely
stylistic device: if their contents cannot be accessed,
content is lost, most likely making the page unusable.

IMO: using frames for layout has already been made
redundant by CSS2. Combining documents on one page,
with frames or otherwise, creates unsolvable problems,
mostly originating from the idea that a URL denotes a
single standalone document, not a collection of
documents or a part of a document.

> Finally, there should be agreed standards for book-
> marking and linking to documents implemented in
> browsers.

There's some discussion here -


Andrew Clover
Received on Tuesday, 18 December 2001 07:44:47 UTC

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