W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > December 2004

Re: Multiple Background Images

From: W. Leon Sutton, Jr. <wsuttonjr@hyponiqs.com>
Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 13:37:44 -0500
Message-ID: <000901c4da30$5c3b6be0$931e4ed8@hyponiqs>
To: "Orion Adrian" <orion.adrian@gmail.com>, <www-style@w3.org>

Orion Adrian's words:

> I do believe we've seen the limits of CSS. It was designed so that
> properties did not have context or structure. CSS properties often
> represent a multitude of actual presentation properties (e.g. float).
> No generic system was put in place to handle
>   a) array properties
>   b) combinitorial fallback (i.e. when one property fails, other
> properties should also fail because of their interactions)
>   c)  unambiguous identification of values in combination properties
> (e.g. background)
>   d) user-defined constants

Am I correct in assuming you wish to make CSS less like a style language and
more like a scripting language?

> [...]
> Simplification of grammar is a laudible goal, but not at the expense
> of learnability, the ability to retain it and usability.

By making the proposed changes to both CSS' structure and syntax, we would
greatly reduce its learnability.  I do not believe that it would be overly
difficult for existing gurus to latch onto the newer syntax - the more
script-like syntax - but I do believe it would be extremely difficult for
beginners and lesser experienced designers to learn it.  Furthermore, we're
again retracting from the original goal of CSS which is simplicity and

To expand on what I stated previously about 'beginners and lesser
experienced designers' learning the language at that point, I'd like to say
that the Web sites and other literature based in teaching CSS would have to
greatly expand their knowledge base.  To emphasise what I'm trying to point
out, take a look at www.w3schools.com/css/ and you'll see that they'd have
to add a whole new section on syntax.  This would be a neusance.

You have to realize, making such drastic changes to CSS is a giant leap.
The changes made from JavaScript 1 to Javascript 2 weren't even as giant a
leap as this.  Still yet, though, when JS versions changed, the core
language structure remained the same.

There has to be a happy medium in there.

One other foreseable problem is switching from contemporary HTML design
(table-based) to CSS-based design.  What I mean is simply that it is already
difficult to stray authors from the classic tabled designs to the new-age
CSS-based design.  They find the idea quite intimidating.  Imagine what it'd
be like converting those non-standard designers to standard designers by
suggesting to them a language that is more a scripting language than
anything else.  Intimidation would definitely peak out and we'd see more and
more table-based designers.

I seriously, ladies and gentlemen, do not wish to see the web revert back to
the days of the table-based design era.

What I am saying is that you strongly need to consider the outside of the
problem and take a look at its long-term effects.  I do agree that a new
syntax should be adapted in version to come, but not CSS 3.  The Web is
still too young to adapt such a drastic change.

> I am not complaining about CSS simply to get my own proposal accross,
> but rather to suggest that CSS 3 do what XHTML 2 did and break away
> from mistakes of the past. I am confident that a new grammer could be
> put together that handles all of these issues well. I am also
> confident that a cleansing fire can be put to many of the properties
> of CSS so they can be replaced by simpler, mutually-exclusive
> properties. Doing so I believe will promote growth in the CSS
> community. Letting the diseased parts of CSS survive will just make
> the whole forest sick.

I'm not quite sure how to reply to this tid-bit, but I'm fairly confident
I've already emphasised my points enough.

W. Leon Sutton, Jr.
Hyponiq's Web Development Solutions - www.hyponiqs.com
Received on Saturday, 4 December 2004 18:38:23 UTC

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