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Re: Reframing my question

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 20:03:18 +0100
Message-ID: <15440.23158.38388.394658@jfouffa.inria.fr>
To: www-style@w3.org
bekah writes:
> Dear w3 style list:
> 
> I asked a question (below) about navigation and CSS recently. I was 
> going to post some examples to this list.
> But as I study the problem more, I find new questions arise.
> 
> The accessibility universe is in a state of expansion. New user agents 
> are being developed. Decisions I make now
> on web design may be obsolete in a few years.
> 
> I have succeeded in separating structure from presentation. I am using 
> CSS to control the look of my HTML page, but not
> consistently from browser to browser.
> 
> Am I wasting my time orchestrating my style sheets to work with each 
> browser especially since my content is not due to be published for at 
> least 6 years?
> 
> By that time, will a portable document standard be available for 
> universal accessibility?

If we could only predict what the Web looks like in 6 years... :-)

W3C works on the assumption that a certain number of concept have
proved to be generally useful in the past, and will probably continue
to be useful, including:

    modularity: each system concentrates on one function, HTML for the
    structure, CSS for the style, etc. so that each can be good at
    what it does, but can also be replaced by something better without
    breaking the others.

    simplicity: keep each system simple enough that, in the case it
    becomes obsolete, you can give the documentation to a student and
    he'll give you a good-enough implementation next week. HTML
    (*valid* HTML, I mean) is simple enough, that even if is not the
    perfect format for your kind of data, it is no sweat to write a
    parser for it it to transform it, if in 6 years time you have
    decided what to transform it to.

    text, not binary: if all else fails, you can extract the
    information by hand, using a good text editor

    public standards, rather than proprietary formats: the company may
    go broke and all documentation may disappear with it, which is not
    as likely for standards that are freely available.

    go one level higher: you want the text to be in italics, but ask
    yourself why and then don't encode the italics, but the answer to
    that question. In CSS terms, that means avoid "<i>word</i>" and
    use 'span.warning {font-style: italics}' instead. This idea is
    also known as the "semantic Web"

    extensibility: HTML's CLASS attribute and CSS's parsing rules are
    just two examples of features that are there, because we know that
    the formats are not perfect and yet cannot be replaced at short
    notice.

    etc. (see e.g., my essay[1])

I've been working in the field for much longer than 6 years, and my
experience is that these things work. Not everybody knows about them,
unfortunately, or believes in them, and not all new developments are
progress, but I do often get the satisfaction that something I
designed or supported 6 years ago is finally starting to work...

[1] http://www.w3.org/People/Bos/DesignGuide/introduction



Bert
-- 
  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos/                              W3C/INRIA
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Thursday, 24 January 2002 14:03:19 GMT

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