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Re: From CSS to DSSSL

From: Chris Lilley <Chris.Lilley@sophia.inria.fr>
Date: Sun, 20 Apr 1997 22:28:10 +0200 (MET)
Message-Id: <9704202228.ZM27489@grommit.inria.fr>
To: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>, www-style@w3.org
On Apr 17,  3:33pm, Paul Prescod wrote:

> Ian Graham wrote:
> > DSSSL is far more powerful than CSS, but is simply too powerful
> > (and complicated) for the majority of people creating Web pages.
>
> I do not believe this to be true,

I do, though I take the entirety of Ian's posting into account and
infer that he is talking of hand authoring rather than automatic
generation of DSSSL, and HTML documents rather than 'Web pages' (ie
not including graphics, PDF, etc)

> Let us presume that we are starting with a blank slate DTD.

We do not have that luxury. Outside an academic discussion context, we are
talking about an existing Web, and existing HTML, and authors desire for
presentational control. There are no flag days.

The first phase of that control was the addition of tags and attributes,
pixel-based formatting, and total revision of the documnent structure
to create the right presentation (eg tables as grids). It was also
characterised by fragile pages that did not look pleasant - never
mind looking the same - on different browsers, different versions or
different platforms.

The second phase is the use of CSS with HTML documents. Ten or twenty
lines of CSS can replace  several k of tags, attributes, and single
pixel GIFs. The complexity is less than much browser-specific hand
generated HTML that is seen today. Outdented headings and other
commonly used stylistic forms are generated with a couple of lines of
CSS rather than a two column table, spanned columns etc. Because
of the cascade, a useful stylesheet can be a single line.

Given the buzz at WWW6, I would expect an overlapping third phase of
simple XML documents together with CSS. I would expect to see some
browsers offering DSSSL support at that point, since there will be
automatically generated documents that use DSSSL. That DSSSL will be
generated by a skilled Scheme programmer and possibly parametrised
slightly by the document authors.

There will be some excellent looking XML documents on the Web during
this phase, that will use DSSSL; however it won't be hand edited
nor would I expect it to be editable by a WYSIWYG editor. I would
also expect to see such  browsers implementing CSS internally as a
conversion to DSSSL, since I am assured that DSSSL can represent
everything in CSS.

I would not expect to see any significant proportion (ie, more
than 0.1% ) of HTML document authors producing DSSSL by hand
in the forseeable future. Ditto for authors of any other type of
SGML document intended for use on the Web.

Making selections from the limited parameterisation of a DSSSL
stylesheet programmed by someone else, yes. Causing a DSSSL stylesheet
to be generated together with an XML document from some automated
conversion of database information, yes.

Writing by hand, from scratch, for arbitrary DTDs - no.


-- 
Chris Lilley, W3C                          [ http://www.w3.org/ ]
Graphics and Fonts Guy            The World Wide Web Consortium
http://www.w3.org/people/chris/              INRIA,  Projet W3C
chris@w3.org                       2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
+33 (0)4 93 65 79 87       06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Sunday, 20 April 1997 16:28:16 GMT

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