W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 1998

Re: Transition (was Re: Capitalize across "span")

From: Steve Knoblock <knoblock@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 22:34:04 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: www-style@w3.org
>	From practically the beginning, some people just didn't get it.  They
>tried to force HTML to make a document "look" just right.  And it didn't

Design is about showing control, if you're not in control the average
document consumer will think you incompetent. Hence, the tables-and-gifs mess.

>	I think that part of the problem is that separating document structure
>from document display is not a process that is intuitive for many people.

The relationship between markup and the applied style seems natural to me.
Text is marked as a heading, the heading is styled red for instance. But
I've been on the web long enough now to realize that most people don't
understand what markup is for until it's explained to them. And making that
abstract connection between the element and the style is expecting even
more---perhaps too much. Electronic documents are relatively new and
divorce the text from the page, the type from the printer, a connection
people have gotten used to over the last 300 years.

>good tools can really help.  A good XML markup tool will provide

I think this is the only solution for average people, businesses and others
not coming from the academic or data processing world. Large publishers
could hire markup experts to ensure author's content is correctly marked up
and hire graphic designers to produce the style sheets. This mirrors the
traditional publishing paradigm. But for those homepage makers (I think
they are a significant part of the web) and the rest, they will need some
kind of smart editor to prompt them for proper markup and style. Or
intelligently correct their markup mistakes behind the scenes. For example,
click italic and the editor inserts <em> or asks them what kind of emphasis
they want. MS Word comes close in it's implementation of styles to this. If
you make a heading by first typing the text, then select it and click in
the drop down box of styles Heading 1, it will mark the text as a top-level
heading and associate it with the style parameters. I doubt many users
actually do this, they probably just type the text, select a big font and
make it so.

I have a small web site and can't afford to store my documents in SGML and
display them in HTML on the fly like some archives do. Or to separate
content and presentation the way others do, serving content from a massive
database through HTML templates (who needs style sheets? whoopee!). Or the
current popularity of "printer-friendly" versions of web pages or
"design-for-webtv" criteria. The beauty of the web is that anyone can
publish and communicate without a great cost. This makes a great variety of
information available that otherwise could not be published or found. I
would not like to see HTML become merely a convenient display language and
hope that if XML becomes a document standard that there will be browsers
that can display it. Or perhaps I don't understand the nature of the XML

I'd be sorry to see web page become a collection of DIV, SPAN, TABLE and
FORM elements foregoing the opportunity to make rich markup available to
searchers on the web.


   _/ Steve Knoblock                   19th Century Photography
   _/ editor@city-gallery.com      http://www.city-gallery.com/
Received on Tuesday, 10 February 1998 10:34:46 UTC

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