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Re: 16px default, SI meter (Re: platform-specific font size issues)

From: Tantek Celik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 09:46:04 -0800
Message-Id: <199812171738.JAA24554@mailhub.Stanford.EDU>
To: Susan Lesch <lesch@macvirus.com>, www-style@w3.org
Susan Lesch <lesch@macvirus.com> pondered:

>Tantek Celik wrote:
>>> " > The appropriate corrective measure, I submit, is for Mac (and X11?)
>>> " > browsers to break with tradition and ship with the default value of
>>> " > "medium" text set at 16px, instead of 12pt.
>>> "
>>> " Microsoft tried something like this in MSIE 4.0 Mac, where 'medium'
>>> increased to 14. They changed it back to 12 in version 4.01.
>>>Are you sure about that? I hadn't noticed. That was a "trade-show
>>>release - loaded with bugs. Tantek - was there an experiment in 4.0? Or
>>>this just a bug?
>>Just a bug.
>In retrospect, maybe the bug is only that the default font was changed back
to 12 point? At the time, I trusted that the increase to 14(px?) was part of
an incomplete but informed intent to reconcile Macintosh with Windows

Your optimism about MacIE4.0's quirky behavior is certainly touching, but I
am afraid misplaced.  At least mostly.  There was the beginnings of variable
resolution (ppi) support in 4.0, but it was far from complete, and very
buggy.  I think there was a thread about how the Font Size Larger/Smaller
buttons on the toolbar in MacIE4.0 appeared to do the opposite of what
people expected - they affected sizes specified by physical units (pt, in,
cm etc.), but did not affect relatively specified sizes.  Clearly the
overall behavior was wrong, but what was happening was that the Font Size
Larger/Smaller buttons were tied to the variable resolution (ppi) support. 
The 14px vs. 12px default medium was certainly unintended (certainly not
informed) and just a bug.  

Both the fact that there was a lot more to variable resolution support than
physical font-sizes, and the fact that that particular UI mechanism already
had a semantic which was being way too overloaded, and even producing the
opposite effect of what users seemed to expect led me to do the "safe" thing
and remove the partial/incomplete/buggy support in MacIE4.01.  I'm still
working on what is the right solution for MacIE (of course the true "right
solution" would be OS-level support for variable resolution, but that's a
different thread).  Until I've got that figured out (for not just
font-sizes, but other length based properties, images, objects etc.) it's
not going in - like I said, no more "trade show specials" to use Todd's
expression.  Now as far as figuring out the right solution, the earlier bits
of this thread certainly contain some interesting ideas...

Tantek Celik
Internet Explorer for Macintosh
Microsoft Corporation
Received on Thursday, 17 December 1998 12:38:31 UTC

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