W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2003

Re: Should we adapt WYSIWYG in CSS?

From: Mikko Rantalainen <mira@cc.jyu.fi>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 12:25:36 -0500 (EST)
Message-ID: <3E566102.4050403@cc.jyu.fi>
To: GS <junkmail.gs@c2i.net>
CC: www-style@w3.org

GS wrote:
> Should we adapt WYSIWYG philosopy in CSS?

IMO, WYSIWYG is just an overrated marketting buzzword. The second "Y" in 
the WYSIWYG means just that: "you". It doesn't try to say that any other 
reader would be seeing the same. And even if she did see the same thing, 
it wouldn't mean that it's the result she wanted to see. That last bit 
is important. More about that follows...

> (related to the thread: Length unit relative to media-width) 
> Here is some reasons for:
> 1) Current use of the web. 
> I guess that as much as 30% , 
> or more of all webpages might be better served
> if the standards adapts here. 

Oh yeah? I guess it's only 2.7%. No reason here either.

> 2) It can be done easily. 
> I think that a reference property is sufficient, if implemented correct
> Something like this:
> reference-type:          screen-width  | client-width | none 
> reference-size:          <pixels>    /*  designers screen width */
> referenze-minimum: <pixels>    /*  prevents ambigeous small scale*/
> reference -width:      <mm>       /*  designers screen width in mm */

Could you explain briefly why do you think that the full screen 
resolution in pixels should have difference in the rendering? If I have 
3000x2000 resolution screen I probably don't want 3000px long lines. 
Scaling according to viewport width might make some sense. However, not 
all of us have similar eyesight and some just prefer to use smaller or 
larger font than the page author. And if I guess correctly, the only 
reason for the "correct" font/element size would be that the author 
didn't know how to design fluid layout.

What is the intended usage for that "reference-width" property?

If the layout is more important than usability and accessibilty, I'd 
suggest something like PDF or perhaps SVG instead of anything combined 
to CSS. Those can display exactly what you want and scale nicely.

> 3) Who should decide?
> Should the CSS standard forbid what people wants to use?
> I think that the webpage autor should be more respected. 
> You must have in sight that the need for a WYSIWYG approach is high.

I think the webpage author should be more educated. The problem is that 
those webpage authors still author documents for the web just like they 
author those documents for the paper. Those two medias are totally 
different and require different logic for layout.

I hope that the web would be semantic in the future and *I* could decide 
how *I* want to view *the content*.

> 4) There is no really drawback
> The old philosophy can still be used.

Define "old philosophy". Do you mean that this new WYSIWYG method allows 
designing layout in the same way we design paper layouts today. IMO, 
that's not good enough. And if you mean that this new system allows 
designing fluid layouts in the same way the current specification 
allows, then we clearly don't need any enchancements.

> I also think that such an adaption will not spoil anyting. 
> It actually makes the content oriented design easier.

Anything that helps keeping fixed layout is bad (fixed as in the layout 
stays exactly the same, like in Opera's page zoom. As I understand this 
proposal the target is to have something like Opera's zoom tweaked so 
that the fixed content always just fills the viewport or screen). Layout 
must be designed in such way that it doesn't break even though the font 
size is changed. And one should be able to resize font without scaling 
all the other dimensions of the page.

> 5) Standards must adapt or die.
> I think that W3C must adapt to changes in actual use. 
> If not, the standards will become irrelevant.

I agree. But I don't agree that "WYSIWYG" is the answer.

> The historical web as an information library only, is outdated.  

Is it? And do you want that? I want the web to be just one honking big 
library that I can view with the style I select. The content itself may 
contain nice pictures and like but the pure information related to those 
objects should be displayed the way I want, not the way the author likes 
to view his information.

I understand that not all are ready for such system, but I hope you 
understand that as the web grows larger and larger we cannot find useful 
information from it unless we have semantic web. Compare web pages to 
email: I hate HTML mail because it allows the sender to decide which 
font the text is, how big the text is and what color it's rendered with; 
I lose the control (not really, my user agent renders HTML mail as plain 
text). Losing control results to decreased productivity and lost time 
due to inefficient information transfer to my brain. Uniform look&feel 
for different content is where we should target to.

> 6) Freedom of speech
> You should not try to control how people use the web.
> The web has made it easy for everyone to express opinions, 
> or make their artwork public. 

I totally support freedom of speech. However, I also think that one 
shouldn't mix the content and the media. CSS should be the part that 
describes how that media behaves under different environments. And that 
behaviour should be better than "just scale the whole page to fit".

The stuff I regard as "art" isn't something that should be expressed 
with some document markup language combined with CSS. Formats like PNG, 
JPG or SVG sound more like what I've in my mind. (And yes, SVG is a 
markup language that can be combined with CSS :) Some other possible 
formats for art include MPEG4 or Ogg.

> 7) Avoid messed up use of  html/css
> The css standards job is to let the designer be able to
> do it "right" or "wrong" in a logical, consistent and correct way.

That's a nice requirement... How would you know once you have achieved 
that one? How about a short description on this "consistent and correct 

> 8) Adapts better to context philosophy
> Content is much more than text. Text and style is closely connected. 
> The word context describes this relationship. 
> Do you agree or disagree?
> Is there other good reasons for?
> Is there ANY good  reasons AGAIST?

I agree that we need easier methods for nicer layouts. However, I'm 
afraid that the proposed method isn't the way it should be done. Most of 
all, I'm afraid that this proposal would allow an inadvertently author 
to harm the reader too easily.

Perhaps I've just misunderstood your great design. Could you explain how 
this could be beneficial without simply scaling everything on the page 
(like Opera's zoom).

Received on Friday, 21 February 2003 12:38:29 UTC

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