W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2000

Re: :first-letter errors and ambiguities

From: Matthew Brealey <thelawnet@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 15:41:07 -0800
Message-ID: <38A89293.4373@yahoo.com>
To: www-style@w3.org
Chris Lilley wrote: 
> > (Incidentally, on the use of points - please can we not have any
> > examples using points in CSS 3 - it only encourages people.)
> ;-) perhaps, no examples using the screen media type
I can't see _any_ medium for which points are better - pixels are the
same except they factor in viewing distance, which therefore makes them

> 3. line-height  - depends on the font - ALWAYS UNKNOWN ON THE WWW
> No, its specified in the style sheet. However, the cap height may well be
> unknown.

As I said, the (appropriate value for) line-height depends on the font,
and the font is always unknown on the WWW.

> > 4. margin-top (sometimes)  - depends on the font - ALWAYS UNKNOWN ON THE
> > WWW
> I think you are using margin-top to account for the required optical
> alignment axis, which is not necessarily the top of the design square for
> the font.
> > 5. font-size  - depends on the font - ALWAYS UNKNOWN ON THE WWW
> This is also specified,though there may be roundoff between computed and
> actual valuie, and it is computed value whichis inherited; this is a
> problem if the drop cap is i a different font to the body type.

I used misleading terminology here. I meant that the glyph size is
unknown, which is the cause of the line-height and width unknowns.

The only way to ensure correct drop caps seems to be to force (which
isn't possible) a synthesised font. It isn't even possible to use a
floated gif, because although you can know the characteristics of the
gif, this still doesn't let you know the characteristics of the font;
however, intelligent font matching might be helpful here - if you use a
gif and a font with particular characteristics, you can at least ensure
roughly acceptable (but not print-quality) drop cap, such as would be
acceptable the WWW.

I think that CSS 3 should include a note to the effect that although
drop caps _can_ be achieved with CSS, authors should not do so - you can
look but don't touch; I fear that there is a danger of giving people
tools that will be used inappropriately (e.g., the abhorrent point-size
attribute extension to FONT (I wouldn't mind (as much) if there was just
pixel-size), which is a wholly unnecessary evil (<FONT size> might
suffer from maintainability problems, but at least it doesn't encourage
people to 
(a) destroy the accessibility of the web
(b) create horrendous cross-platform differences)). Similarly for
positioning, which is subject to widespread abuse by thoughtless
'designers' - the information is provided, but no note is given to
discourage people from creating MSIE/NN-specific, resolution-specific
and generally ugly pages.
Received on Monday, 14 February 2000 10:39:16 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Monday, 27 April 2009 13:54:03 GMT