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

Re: Units, font sizing, and zoom suggestion for CSS 3

From: Erik van der Poel <erik@netscape.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 14:38:31 -0800
Message-ID: <388CD467.F09F0F85@netscape.com>
To: Karlsson Kent - keka <keka@im.se>
CC: www-style <www-style@w3.org>
Karlsson Kent - keka wrote:
> I strongly dislike the idea that "em" should mean different things in
> two major modern digital typesetting contexts.  TeX, and its successor
> Omega, are not going away as far as I can see.  "em" has in several,
> but not all, typographic traditions *into modern time* meant "width of
> M", at least for fonts suitable for running text.  That's what it
> means also in the very widely used TeX system.  Let's stick to that.

I'm beginning to warm up to Kent's idea here. Since the current
definition of "em" in CSS is so vague, and since the implementations
don't appear to implement it consistently, and since CSS is still in its
infancy in terms of volume of data on the Net and in terms of removing
vagueness in the spec, I think it's not too late to "change" (clarify)
the definition of "em". There aren't many documents or style sheets out
there using "em", for various reasons. Also, when you pronounce the unit
"em", it sounds like the letter M.

> (For most other scripts, a suitable similar measure should not be too
> hard to find, I think.  Perhaps Arabic/Mongolian are hard for this.)

We need to define what font-size means for all of those scripts anyway.
So how about introducing a new unit called "ft", which means the height
of the first available font in the font-family list. Or we could call it
"fnt" to avoid confusion with "foot".

> As for the design and *internal* measurements , like the "design
> square size" (or whatever you want to call it), of typefaces, there is
> no hope to change those for all of the thousands of digital typeface
> designs in existence, or even get a change through for all "future"
> designs.  Instead the internal measurements must be kept internal, and
> not exposed for external use.

I haven't really seen enough evidence to support what you're saying
here, but even here, I'm inclined to agree with you. Let's hear it,
folks. What are the objections to this? And if you do object, please
back up your claims with hard evidence.

Received on Monday, 24 January 2000 17:41:52 UTC

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