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Re: conformance (was layout solutions blah blah blah)

From: Tantek Celik <tantek@cs.stanford.edu>
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 08:36:59 -0800
To: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>, web style list <www-style@w3.org>
Message-id: <0GQI00G9R5Y1JJ@mta6.snfc21.pbi.net>
From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Subject: Re: conformance (was layout solutions blah blah blah)
Date: Fri, Jan 25, 2002, 5:20 AM

>>> I am sorry to bear this message, but neither Internet Explorer
>>> 5 Macintosh Edition nor Internet Explorer 6
>>> conformantly implements CSS1.
>>
>> Last time we checked, both fully passed the CSS1 test suite,
>> the only
>> objective measure of CSS1 conformance that exists.
>
> Conformance criteria are clear in CSS1 section 7.  There is
> no mention in that section that the test suite is the measure
> of conformance.  There is no correction or
> supplementary Recommendation that defines the test suite as
> the measure of conformance.

That's why I said _objective_.  Following and evaluating prose is
subjective, and tends to be more difficult to prove/disprove.

Though, in principle, I agree somewhat in that conformance is noted by the
spec, but without testable instances of that conformance it is of
significantly less value.

>> So, I'd say that leaves the burden of proof in the naysayers' court.
>
> I agree.  However, I do not want to clutter www-style with
> the details of implementation bugs.

Actually, when it comes to specs which have yet to exit CR (see my previous
comment about such specs), this is exactly the place to discuss it.

If implementations are having difficulty or are unable to implement a
particular feature, it probably means it should be removed from the current
version of the spec and put back on the drawing board for the next version.
This is not just an academic exercise afterall.

>> Implementing CSS2 and CSS3 does not invalidate
>> CSS1 conformance by design.
>
> I refer to CSS1 section 7:
>
> A User Agent that uses CSS1 to display documents
> conforms to the CSS1 specification if it:
>  * attempts to fetch all referenced style sheets
>    and parse them according to this specification
>  * sorts the declarations according to the
>    cascading order
>  * implements the CSS1 functionality within the
>    constraints of the presentation medium (see
>    explanation below)."
>
> The criterion is not "parse them according to this specification
> or according to later versions of CSS".  At the lexical level, CSS1
> and CSS2 are largely but not entirely compatible.
>
> CSS1 accepts only characters in the ISO-8859-1 repertoire and
> can refer only to codepoints in the Basic Multilingual Plane.
> CSS2 accepts any codepoint in the Unicode range, directly or
> by reference.
>
> The selector "fo\6F bar" is equivalent to "foo bar" according to
> CSS1 and is equivalent to "foobar" according to CSS2.

Very interesting.  I will forward this to the working group (most of whose
members are on this list anyway) so that it can further analyzed - I for one
was not aware of these particular incompatibilities.

> And so on.

Keep them coming - this kind of feedback is very useful, and is exactly what
this list is for!  Thanks!


>>> Most people, myself included, value speed, stability,
>>> and convenience as much as if not more than they
>>> value conformance to specifications.
>>
>> This was perhaps true in the old WWW (Wild West
>> Web) of the mid 1990s, but is no longer true
>> today in the 2000s.
>
> Are we living on the same planet?  Most people are not aware of
> the *existence* of formal specifications for the Web

They shouldn't have to be - their software should "just work".

> Seriously, though, are you telling me that people would use a
> CSS1-conformant browser if it offered no printing, saving, or
> text extraction facilities; if it had no navigational history and
> no bookmarks; if each glyph required two seconds to render; and
> if the browser crashed every few minutes?

I didn't say "the bar has been replaced" - I said

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

>> The bar has been raised.

This means that yes of course you still need those features that people take
for granted that you listed.

But now, in addition:

>> People expect valid
>> pages to appear correct.  New browsers that
>> fail this criteria have been severely
>> criticized for it.
>>
>>
>> http://www.alistapart.com/stories/omniweb/
>
> Do not mistake Daniel "waferbaby" Bogan or Jeffrey Zeldman
> for the Great Unwashed Masses.  The only thing that most
> people expect on the Web is that pages render in
> unfamiliar browsers as they render in the browser of
> personal choice.  And most people will converge on a single browser.

That was just one example.  There are plenty of other newsgroups, forums,
etc. where I've seen such non-compliant "new/up&coming browsers" get ripped
to shreds by numerous different individuals for the browsers' failing to
support conformance to basic web standards.

> What percentage of Web pages validate according to
> formal specifications?

Another tragedy, another topic for discussion.

> Well, then, what level of demand should
> we anticipate for software that does the Right Thing, when
> the majority of Web content is tag soup?

Competition among web viewing/authoring software will naturally address this
over time.  Today's modern web viewers can handle valid content.  Small
devices browsing the web tend to require valid content.  Thus more and more
authoring software will tend towards more and more valid content, and the
less-compliant web viewers will slowly fall by the way side.

> (Confer "The Rise
> of 'Worse is Better' '' <http://www.ai.mit.edu/docs/articles/goo
> d-news/subsection3.2.1.html>.)

Funny article.  Seems like it can be summarized by short statement:

You can either do something reasonable and then improve it over time, or sit
around all day thinking about how to do it perfectly and never actually do
it.

Evolution predicts the former will succeed.  This is nothing new.

Tantek
Received on Friday, 25 January 2002 11:32:26 GMT

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