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

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

From: Andi Hindle <andih@harlequin.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 06:12:21 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <802565A8.0039DD26.00@noteslong.long.harlequin.co.uk>
To: George Olsen <golsen@2lm.com>
cc: www-style@w3.org

On 10/02/98 22:49:02, George Olsen <golsen@2lm.com> wrote:
> Yes, the Web is *not* print, and I do believe pages should be
> scalable to
> multiple browsers, monitors and platforms. However, print has had a
> long
> time to experiment and develop principles for how to present content
> effectively. For example, the guideline that leading needs to be
> increased
> as line length increases to maintain legibility is a principle that
> works
> regardless of whether it's a book, a billboard, or a computer monitor.
> While admittedly most users weren't aware of this at a conscious level
> (since HTML was like the DTP revolution all over again), those of us
> who
> did were found HTML to be painful to work with.
> While I realize that many here find using tables for layout
> abhorrent, not
> providing some sort of <NOCSS-P> capability to author a combined
> 3.2 document makes it difficult for me to transition to CSS-P thus
> slowing
> adoption of the standard. Clients simply aren't go to pay me double
> so that
> I can do a CSS-P version and a HTML 3.2 tables version. And
> presentation is
> important enough to them that they won't accept what happens when an
> older
> browser tries intrepret a CSS-P page. So I kludge yet again and use
> CSS-1
> and tables.
George makes some excellent points (thanks, George).  Moving to HTML + CSS
or even to XML
is going to be a painful process.  Indeed, with the current level of use
agent support (I'm thinking especially of Internet Explorer and Netscape
here), it's practically impossible to even start the transitioning process
not because the support isn't there, but because the support is so buggy
that you can't reliably predict the outcome of using any given CSS element;
it's actually better for me today to choose to compromise a design by using
HTML 3.2 with no CSS at all.

This isn't to say (I hasten to add) that the work on CSS & XML is not
important -- far from it!  But we are soon going to be presented with a
real problem.  Even if we allow that there will be a plethora of tools
available for generating/designing web pages in many different formats to
allow for backwards compatibility without having to over-compromise on
design, we are still stuck with the problem of how to deliver these pages
seamlessly to the end user based on what support their user agent has for a
given markup/other technology.

OK, I could ask them, as many sites do. whether they want the XML version
or an old HTML 2.0 compliant version.  This is partially effective, but
does require intervention on the part of the user.  The only other way to
do this is to have a script that recognizes the incoming HTTP request and
sends the appropriate level of markup etc. out.  Which is wonderful
_except_ that caches are stupid.  By which I mean that a cache will
interpret a UA request for <http://www.foo.com/> as request the same page
_regardless of the fact that a different page is generated for different
user agent request_.  I've seen this myself accessing a page with a recent
UA like NS4.0 and then accessing the same URL with Lynx.  Oh dear :-(

I appreciate that this may seem off-topic for this list and I apologize if
anyone feels that way; but I actually think that this is very important
indeed to getting the web to grow the way I'm sure we would all like to
see.  (I would have sent this to www-proxies, but that list seems to be
inactive.).  I wonder if anyone knows whether this problem is likely to be
addressed by anyone.  If not, maybe we should try to figure out what to do
about it! ;-)

Received on Wednesday, 18 February 1998 04:37:34 UTC

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