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Re: User-agent and user style sheets from the network

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 09:03:38 +0100
Message-ID: <33267629.20040225090338@w3.org>
To: Etan Wexler <ewexler@stickdog.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org

On Wednesday, February 25, 2004, 8:52:10 AM, Etan wrote:

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

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

Yep.

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

Oh, sure. I was, as you say, referring to current practice. A UA
stylesheet that was only available while online would be a bit of a
pain, but it depends on how connectivity maps out over the next few
years.

EW> I've wanted for a while to be able to specify a user style sheet from
EW> the network so that I can take my preferences to any decent computing
EW> environment.

Sure. Nothing currently prevents this, of course.

EW>  I also want to be able to point to a public style sheet
EW> created by somebody else. For people who are not inclined to write
EW> their user style sheets, the ability to select a network accessible
EW> resource as a user style sheet is crucial. Having somebody or some
EW> organization competently create and maintain style sheets for the 
EW> public or for a customer base is a key to promoting user style sheets.

Agreed.

EW> Here's a million-dollar idea (explained here so that I can look back in
EW> about five years and say with certainty that I thought of it first): a
EW> Web site called Just My Style that exists to serve user style sheets.
EW> The style sheets will produce attractive, more-or-less legible designs
EW> for popular Web sites.

Another key point - bookmarking a site should also note the user
stylesheets that were in use at the time, and offer to apply them
again when you revisit the site.

EW> Users can download the style sheets for use as a
EW> local file or access the style sheets repeatedly through the network.
EW> As new user agents and updates of existing user agents emerge, the
EW> style sheets will be changed as necessary, automatically conferring
EW> benefits to users who point to the online versions.

Right. This is the general Web effect applied to user stylesheets.

EW> There would be
EW> various levels of service. The premium service would offer 
EW> customization through a form that would ask about user preferences and
EW> needs.

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

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

That part sounds less convincing, but I can see a benefit.

Especially if the user agent maintains a persistent cache of these
style sheets so the most recently used ones are still available when
you go offline.



-- 
 Chris Lilley                    mailto:chris@w3.org
 Chair, W3C SVG Working Group
 Member, W3C Technical Architecture Group
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2004 03:03:38 GMT

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