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User-agent and user style sheets from the network

From: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 23:52:10 -0800
To: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>, www-style@w3.org
Message-Id: <8410E489-6767-11D8-A256-000502CB1B77@stickdog.com>

Chris Lilley wrote to <mailto:www-style@w3.org> on 23 February 2004 in 
"Re: [CSS21] response to issue 115 (and 44)" 
(<mid:936899584.20040223193021@w3.org>):

> For CSS, there are three sources of stylesheets and only one of those 
> comes over HTTP, and that not all of the time.

I assume that the three sources that you mean are author, user, and 
user agent. Is my assumption correct?

If so, I'll grant that what you describe is current practice. I won't 
concede that isolation from the network is natural or healthy for 
either user style sheets or user-agent style sheets.

I've wanted for a while to be able to specify a user style sheet from 
the network so that I can take my preferences to any decent computing 
environment. I also want to be able to point to a public style sheet 
created by somebody else. For people who are not inclined to write 
their user style sheets, the ability to select a network accessible 
resource as a user style sheet is crucial. Having somebody or some 
organization competently create and maintain style sheets for the 
public or for a customer base is a key to promoting user style sheets.

Here's a million-dollar idea (explained here so that I can look back in 
about five years and say with certainty that I thought of it first): a 
Web site called Just My Style that exists to serve user style sheets. 
The style sheets will produce attractive, more-or-less legible designs 
for popular Web sites. Users can download the style sheets for use as a 
local file or access the style sheets repeatedly through the network. 
As new user agents and updates of existing user agents emerge, the 
style sheets will be changed as necessary, automatically conferring 
benefits to users who point to the online versions. There would be 
various levels of service. The premium service would offer 
customization through a form that would ask about user preferences and 
needs.

With the existence of style servers, user control and counterbalance to 
poor authoring will no longer be confined to the dedicated geeks.

What about user-agent style sheets? Yes, they, too, can benefit from 
networking. The key is in perpetual style-sheet maintenance. If a user 
agent retrieves part of its user-agent style sheet through the network, 
the user agent can keep current with new document types, namespaces, 
and specification revisions. And it will all happen behind the scenes, 
with no need to pester the user with a manual upgrade.

-- 
Etan Wexler.
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2004 02:53:16 GMT

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