W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > November 1999

Re: Body-indent

From: Matthew Brealey <thelawnet@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 03:35:17 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <19991105113517.17274.rocketmail@web905.mail.yahoo.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

--- Jan Roland Eriksson <rex@css.nu> wrote:
> On Wed, 3 Nov 1999 19:39:08 -0500 (EST), you wrote:
> >There are methods for creating hanging indents
> using positive left
> >margin and negative text-indent.
> There are simple reasons as to why you would not
> want to use the margin
> property for this...
Not to mention the fact that it sets up a block for
the element that is of the wrong size. (Imagine the
havoc that such a method would cause in columns (the
text-indent would overlap the previous column).

> Just as I prefer to use RISC based CPU's for
> whatever programming task I
> may be assigned too at work, I would like to see a
> well implemented
> "mean and lean" version of CSS too

1. Use CSS 1.
2. Use the CSS 1 core.

In addition, it is perfectly possible to make pages
using only a subset of CSS that works.

For example, I use a script that does browser
detection to serve my style sheets, plus I have a
"mean and lean" style sheet that works on any browser
(containing color, font, margin-left, etc.).

It is true, however, that the fact that CSS is so
complicated hampers takeup.

Authors see that although it would be nice to replace
all those tables and FONT tags, there really is little
point, because they'll probably find that the CSS
they've replaced it with doesn't work, or, even if
they go to the enormous trouble of checking it against
all the CSS bugs, they may find that it turns out
there is some previously undocumented bug.

There is no doubt IMHO that the biggest reason that
css is not used more heavily is the poor support for

Unfortunately, this obscures the fact that 99% of
common HTML formatting can be achieved in CSS with the
gain of greater flexibility. And thus although things
like color:, font: generally work well enough, authors
are inhibited from using these because of the
horrendous bugs elsewhere that act as a barrier to the
whole of css.

As I see it the best way to deal with this is to try
and ensure better compliance with CSS.

Rather than saying that because Browser X is hopeless
at CSS, Word Processor Y shouldn't be given any more
css, I believe the answer lies partly in
modularisation . 

What I would like to see is a situation where a UA can
claim CSS support if all it does is parse style sheets
correctly and support (say) color and

Ensuring that this is occurs is a somewhat hit and
miss affair, so to assist in it I would suggest that a
checklist for UA implementers is provided with each
module - e.g.,


Does the UA recognise that an @rule is everything
between the @ and the next semicolon or {}, which ever
is the first?
Does the UA ignore all property declarations that
contain unknown values?
Does the UA ignore all measurements that don't include
a unit?

I am sure that this would help because at present what
seems to happen is that UA implementers tend to say
'Oh look, here's background-attachment, let's
implement that', and ignore the sections on parsing
because they would rather have a product that supports
loads of 'sexy' properties (badly) but one that
interprets font: 800 12pt Arial as meaning 800 pixel
Arial (as is the case with one UA) than one that
actually works.

Thus I would certainly like to see a situation where
css support can be claimed with the support of only a
few properties, but where support cannot be claimed
with _more_ properties but where support is buggy.

Unfortunately it is too late for existing UAs, so all
that can be done is to attempt to hide buggy bits of
CSS from them (either using a script, or @import
"css.css" all;  (which only catches Opera, which
although buggy, does not have any page destroying
bugs) and similar methods)

> My interpretation of last years discussions around
> CSS is that "the
> advocates" wants it to go into a CISC state, where
> authors are supposed
> to rely on others to do their job correct first,
> before they can start
> to utilize the technology them self.
> There is so much that can be done with CSS1 already,
> together with a
> fairly compliant ua, but I seriously doubt that
> authors at large have
> even tried to really learn about that part yet. So
> when are they going
> to have a chance to learn about the rest, if
> proposals for new stuff
> just keeps flooding in?

But there is also so much that _can't_ be done.

For example, you can't position elements and get other
elements to flow around them. This is seen in almost
any newspaper, and it is essential that CSS should be
able to reproduce something as basic as a newspaper.

In addition it shouldn't be forgotten that CSS is not
just for the WWW.

For example, many DTP programs now output HTML with
css, but they find that many of the effects that have
been common in DTP circles for many years cannot yet
be achieved with CSS.

From Matthew Brealey (http://members.tripod.co.uk/lawnet (for law)or http://members.tripod.co.uk/lawnet/WEBFRAME.HTM (for CSS))
Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at http://auctions.yahoo.com
Received on Friday, 5 November 1999 06:35:19 UTC

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