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rant rant rant (was: Re: Issue 4: Text-Indent and DIV)

From: Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997 22:55:31 -0700
Message-Id: <v03102801b00b0c73153e@[]>
To: Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@dol.com>, <www-style@w3.org>
At 8:15 PM -0500 8/3/1997, Peter Fraterdeus wrote:

> Imagine the person-years of wasted effort trying to hack around the
>weirdness in the browsers. It's a crime of cosmic proportions! Disgusting
>and evil. (if a small bit of hyperbole may be forgiven...)

It is a small bit of hyperbole, but not a large bit. (well, OK, "cosmic" is
a stretch, but if the Web is the "universe of network-accessible
information," it can indeed be forgiven.)

I'll throw my hat in the ring and say that sloppy CSS implementations are
far worse than none at all from the POV of a commercial "extranet"
development shop.

Browser vendors! You are poisoning your own well to release "trade-press
checkbox" CSS implementations! Betas without short-fuse timebombs are just
as bad as bad final releases. Only intranet-privileged or foolhardy
developers will take advantage of your superior (?) future implementations
if there's a significant percentage of dangerously-broken CSS
implementations out there. "Dangerous" means "possibly worse than no CSS at
all." If the non-technophile suit who controls the money might see hir site
in something other than the latest (even the other guy's browser), and it's
a garbled mess, WE CAN'T USE CSS. We must build redundant sites, or target
the worst case (anathema to corporate PR departments and ambitious
developers alike). Content management headaches and cost overruns hurt.
Remember: every web developer already puts in at least 2 person-years every
year just keeping up with the browser wars - we can't deal with yet another
type of assault. Spotty CSS is like germ warfare: casualties are often as
high on your side as the enemy's - to say nothing of civilians.

Some developers with whom I've spoken have concluded that the only place
they'd consider using CSS or the DOM anytime soon is within the safe,
narrow confines of a browser-specific "channel". I can hardly blame them.
I'm sure the browser war strategists are thrilled. Channels are like little
orgy rooms of the proprietary and the "proposed." Push isn't just
"scheduled pull" of the same old stuff, it's stuff that won't work anywhere
else. Nondegradable stuff. Stuff that up to 0.0004% of the Web might ever
access. Stuff like CSS-P.

Have you all noticed that CSS-P appears to be getting more engineering
attention than CSS1? The CSS-P spec isn't even finished yet, but all the
current browser promo efforts seem to dwell on the wonders of "absolute
positioning" and z-order, while CSS1 gets short schrift (sp?) as, uh, fancy
font stuff, unfortunately lacking fonts. Is it any wonder that such
non-videophilic niceties as indents and leading are broken? I'm sure such
decisions are based on careful research at shopping malls and a stirring
vision of how close the Web could come to resemble MTV.

Is Chris W. fighting a lonely battle at MS? And where's the other guy--too
busy fixing CSS bugs? I don't suppose they've got proper cascading,
inheritance, and the rest of it figured out amongst themselves, while we
delve into these issues for our own enlightenment (just in case we decide
to write our own browser and deploy 50 million or so copies).

Peter's question remains, though: what to do besides getting mad?

Todd Fahrner
Received on Monday, 4 August 1997 01:55:26 UTC

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