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Re: CSS and 'tabs'?

From: Tex Texin <tex@i18nguy.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2003 16:56:02 -0500
Message-ID: <3FE616F2.D85D314A@i18nguy.com>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@iinet.net.au>
Cc: Scott Romack <sromack@PTSTEAMS.com>, www-style@w3.org

It is true that tab stops can be emulated, but it can require quite a
bit of markup...

For example, a document like a resume might use one set of tab stops for
a line with the company name,
(perhaps name location, period of employment)
another for the position description (title, period)
another for the accomplishments.

As the first and second categories of information are generally one line
each, putting them in tables adds quite a bit of overhead for each line.
The third is generally only a few lines of text as well.

I am sure there are other document formats that have layouts that change
tab stops frequently, for which using tables or list styles adds

The other difference would be that text that exceeds the width to the
next tab stop and causes the next field to skip to the one after, would
be hard to emulate. You can use colspan if you know an entry will exceed
the field width, but it would be a headache to identify when to use it. 

Decimal tab stops would also be tricky if the number of digits of
precision is variable.

Tab stops seem like a legitimate user requirement. 


Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> Scott Romack wrote:
> > I am wondering about text formatting and tabs. Not a 'tabbed interface'
> > like Google. Tabs like in a text layout program. This is very handy for
> > aligning items horizontally without having to use a fixed width font
> > (yikes). A good example would be a table of contents, or better yet
> > labels and form fields!
>    Tab stops, like those available in Microsoft Word (including left,
> center, right and decimal) may be useful in XHTML.  The idea has been
> mentioned previously, and was listed as one of the questions in the list
> of suggested extensions to CSS, called Smart Tabs [1].  However, there
> are questions about the need for using tabs to line up data.
>    A tabbed structure, like a table of contents may be able to be marked
> up with existing elements, and styled with appropriate margins and/or
> paddings, etc... to line up appropriatly.  For example, a table of
> contents could be marked up like this:
> <dl>
>         <dt>Chapter 1</dt> <dd>1</dd>
>         <dt>Chapter 2</dt> <dd>15</dd>
>         <dt>Chapter 3</dt> <dd>27</dd>
> </dl>
>    (I'm not exactly sure wether a definition list is actually the most
> appropriate structure here, but it demonstrates the concept well enough)
>    The features, available in word, to style tabs with underlines, or
> dots, etc... could be done using the ::before element, with a
> border-bottom property applied.
> ...Lachy!
> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/NOTE-CSS-potential-19981210#id1554439764

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex@XenCraft.com
Xen Master                          http://www.i18nGuy.com
XenCraft		            http://www.XenCraft.com
Making e-Business Work Around the World
Received on Sunday, 21 December 2003 16:56:12 UTC

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