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Re: CSS 2.1 WD and non-CSS presentational hints

From: Dylan Schiemann <dylans@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2002 15:27:59 -0700
Message-ID: <3D601F6F.2000509@yahoo.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

After reading this thread, I think one important subtlety was missed or 
not explained well enough.  That is that explicit presentational hints 
provided through html will now be treated the same as all implicit html 
presentational hints.

For example, when you use the tag p for paragraphs, you are semantically 
applying a definition of paragraphs.  Additionally, most user agents 
give a default style of a margin of 1em on top and bottom.  p elements 
have traditionally had their very own implicit presentational behavior.

While a tag such as b has been used to style something bold, its 
semantic meaning is really to emphasize a section of content, to make it 
stand out in importance to the reader.  The semantic definition is that 
the text inside a b tag is more important or emphasized than the 
adjacent text not in a b tag.  Traditionally, user agents give b 
elements a font-weight of 700.  Since the tag name suggests this 
styling, I describe this as explicit presentational behavior

When thought of in this context, it seems more consistent to move 
presentational attributes to the user agent level because every html 
element has a default style associated with it.  It equalizes the 
signficance of implicit and explicit presentational hints from html.

Likewise, I do not see a significant issue for user style sheets.  The 
reason is that if someone were to define b {font-weight:normal;} in a 
CSS2-compliant user style sheet, this would have had no effect in any 
browser on the market... meaning that no one would have purposely done 
this before... anyone wishing to override the font-weight on a b tag 
would have already made their declaration include !important.  Similarly 
with font, i, etc.  I don't see an obvious use case where setting a user 
style sheet declaration under the CSS2 cascade order that would have 
worked as expected before would not now do so because all declarations 
would have had to include !important declarations to override them.  If 
a presentational html attribute is unspecified by the author, the user 
agent style sheet will still usually present a default styling, so again 
I see no issue with this change.


Dylan Schiemann
Received on Sunday, 18 August 2002 18:19:03 UTC

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