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Re: list-item alignment in CSS

From: Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 17:25:09 -0700
Message-Id: <v03102807afbba1eb4e90@[]>
To: Chris Lilley <Chris.Lilley@sophia.inria.fr>, David Perrell <davidp@earthlink.net>, www-style <www-style@w3.org>
At 0:34 +0200 6.5.97, Chris Lilley wrote:
> On Jun 4,  2:06pm, Todd Fahrner wrote:

> > The presence of markers to separate the
> > "paragraph items" points to the artificiality of the distinction
> > between block and list-item display types.
> No, not really. In DSSSL-speak CSS has three flow objects - block, inline,
> and list-item. More are likely to be added.

An aside: personally I have found the recent infusion of DSSSL-speak
very helpful, particularly the "flow-object" concept. But as for
flow-objects being added to CSS - do you mean as part of a
"declarative subset" of DSSSL, or a new level of ambition for CSS?

> But the inline pilcrow-separated paragraphs are still inline flow objects,
> not list items of any sort. And (given widespread availability of good CSS
> implementations) the paragraphs will still be marked up as paragraphs.

A cursory scan of some graphic arts history texts suggests the
strongest morphological connections between the pilcrow as paragraph
separator and the bullet or other fleuron as list-item separator.
There's a line of descent from inline paragraph markers (pilcrows),
to on-the-margin markers (including empty- and filled-indent
treatments), to in-the-margin markers (including hanging indents, and
fleurons such as bullets). Consider religious texts whose
"paragraphs" are rendered typically much like <OL> list items -
numbered verses. So I posit that the distinction between lists and
other sorts of item-blocks (like paragraphs) is one of habit and
history - nothing more semantically essential.

> > I'd say let it look like a train wreck. "Idiot-proof" can't be a
> > design requirement: they'll invent better idiots.
> I assume you just read that fast, or my flippant tone deceived you.
> Telling entire countries that their web pages can look like a train
> wreck because ASCII is fine for us is not actually something we can
> get away with, as I am sure you realise. I also presume that you didn't
> mean to call everyone from any country that uses a different writing
> direction an idiot.

You presume correctly - some of my best friends are idoi - er, write
backwar - er, are ambidextrous! :^)  If you endeavor to accommodate
bi-directional horizontal and vertical flow on the canvas
simultaneously, with collision avoidance and "reader-author-machine
balance", I don't envy you. Especially not if you're starting with
CSS. That was the context of my remark.

> Providing the basic ability to lay out a page of simple text is actually
> a rather more pressing priority and helps rather more people than figuring
> out how to do some arty rearrangement of paragraphs or lists for visual
> glitz. However, if possible, we would like to cater for both communities.

One person's glitz is another's legibility. Control is control.

Todd Fahrner

The printed page transcends space and time. The printed page, the
infinitude of books, must be transcended. THE ELECTRO-LIBRARY.

--El Lissitzky, 1923
Received on Wednesday, 4 June 1997 20:15:39 GMT

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