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Re: <NOBR> - Returning to the question....

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 22:46:45 +0200 (EET)
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0402092222200.8180@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Mon, 9 Feb 2004, Marcus wrote:

> Obs.: I don't speak english...

You do a fine job in writing it. :-)

> Seems that the final word about alternatives to the <NOBR> proprietary tag
> is the CSS1 property "white-space:nowrap", right?

I have seen no official W3C statement about <NOBR> anywhere.

The white-space property is obscurely defined, but maybe it's just the
_name_ that is misleading.

> Well, in the latest published CSS1 specification ( the revision 1999-01-11 )
> the white-space still appears as if it applied only to blockLevel elements.

Ditto in CSS 2.0. There's a proposed change to this in the CSS 2.1 draft.

> Is it a item for a new CSS1 Errata?

Hopefully not. Real specifications aren't silently changed by "Errata".
Errata are to be used for indicating typos and things like that, not
hiding design mistakes or implementing changes of mind.

However, regarding HTML, the question arises whether <nobr> should be
regarded as structural, at least when used for expressions like
%7E, which may _change meaning_ when broken into % and 7E.
Or for expressions like -1.

If I write <nobr>Apollo 8</nobr>, then I completely accept the
idea that <nobr> is just presentational. I can live with
Apollo&nbsp;8, and maybe my document is then more structural.
I can even accept that Apollo-8 could be broken into Apollo- and 8
on two lines. But indicating that a string containing special characters
must not be broken across lines may relate to the _meaning_, since if
a document e.g. discusses the command "rm -r /usr/spool/foo", then this is
is in a serious manner distinct from telling someone to do "rm -r /usr
/spool/foo". Do people wish to delegate making the distinction to
something that is by definition just optional presentational suggestions?

I see no reason why <nobr> should not be taken into HTML. It would be a
better idea to abandon Unicode line breaking rules, but that's too late
now. (Technically, there's no reason why HTML specifications, as a
"higher level protocol", could not simply say that the line breaking rules
do not apply, restoring what HTML 2.0 specification said about line
breaks. But pragmatically and politically, it's far too late.)

But in theory, one could answer that the Unicode characters for layout
control are sufficient. For example, %&#8288;7E or -&#8288;1
(or, if the content allows, you could use the minus character, e.g.
&#8722;1). There's just the trivial practical problem that for about a
decade, your documents will look a mess (currently on most browsers, in
future maybe just a minority), whereas <nobr> would degrade gracefully
even if it were ignored by some fancy browser. Oh, and the little problem
that no mortal men can understand Unicode line breaking rules _and_ figure
out how browsers actually play havoc with them.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Monday, 9 February 2004 15:46:49 UTC

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