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Transition (was Re: Capitalize across "span")

From: Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 11:44:39 -0800
Message-Id: <v03102802b104f5c7e7b7@[206.170.32.47]>
To: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>, Matthew Lye <mlye@trentu.ca>
Cc: W3C style list <www-style@w3.org>
Thus spake Chris Lilley:
 
> Todd, I think you know us a little better than that; we frequently report
> errors in CSS implementation or describe which behaviour is compliant in
> response to queries on this list and the newsgroup.

Yes, discreetly. I don't think we're really in disagreement here. You make
quiet efforts (such as in mailing lists and other SIGs) to help
implementors get it right, meanwhile striving not to publicize certain
gross deficiencies in ways likely to stoke user revolt and bad press. I'll
think otherwise when you swap in this version:

http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/Test/w3c.html

That'd certainly set the henhouse acackle, eh? I hardly blame you for not
doing this, but it does make me wonder whether HTML 4.0's "transitional"
period won't, in fact, become a destination, particularly in view of the
fact that XML is the first sort of Web-ready markup that key constituencies
are embracing as a worthy document source format. If XML is source, then
HTML is output: display. Why bother trying to preserve structure and
semantics in a display format? All you need is DIVs, SPANs, tables, and
forms. And support for "atomist" CSS - nothing too relative or
inheritance-intensive, and preferably inline. And DHTML. Right? If you
ditch all those troublesome structural/semantic tags, you can get passable
results with CSS today in the 4.0 browsers. The transition may be nearing
conclusion.

These are rhetorical questions and assertions, but I suspect they're not
too far off the mark in many minds. While W3C promotes CSS for the greater
glory of HTML as a portable (smart) source format, leading implementors
seem interested only in those bits that will make HTML more tractable as a
"WYSIWYG" display format, limited to today's typical browsing paradigm
(maximize and scroll) and possibly also today's typical printers (US
letter, A4).

I suspect that at least some CSS implementation omissions are strategic,
notably complete support for the "display type" property. With support for
this property, together with "float", HTML and its renderings wouldn't be
joined at the hip as they are now, and the "HTML/CSS flow objects" of MS's
XSL implementation would be nonsensical. I think MS perceives self-interest
in keeping HTML and CSS relatively dumb: they're moving faster to provide
smarter solutions that they will effectively own, at least to today's "fat
middle" - the 800x600 Windows desktop. As for alternate renderings, even
for those environments in which it has a stake (WebTV, CE, car browsers,
etc.) - there'll be enough cash to buy those bridges when they get to them.
A little redundancy means more chimps have steady work, right?

________________________________
Todd Fahrner
mailto:fahrner@pobox.com

"Such machines will have enormous appetites. One of them will take
instructions and data from a roomful of girls armed with simple keyboard
punches, and will deliver sheets of computed results every few minutes.
There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of
millions of people doing complicated things."

--Vannevar Bush, 1945.
Received on Monday, 9 February 1998 14:40:08 GMT

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