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Re: [css3-lists] Too many list styles and a proposal to simplifythem

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 09:09:15 +0200 (EET)
To: W3C CSS List <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0403150825120.6209@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Sat, 13 Mar 2004, Ian Hickson wrote:

> The implementation burden of 149 repeating list styles is very small too.

It depends. And they surely make the specification more voluminous,
especially if you actually define the meanings (instead of leaving it to
implementations, which would be virtually guaranteed to be incompatible).

> > There are a good number such as "lower-swedish" and "upper-swedish"
>
> I have it on good authority that those are the same as lower-alpha
> (apparently Swedes don't use their three "additional" letters in
> alphabetic numbering contexts).

Have you checked this from the applicable national institutions
officially, and are you sure they understood the question correctly?
Matters like this are very confused, and it is easy to find bogus
information around. As far as I know, there is no standard for this, in
Sweden or in Finland, so assuming that the nationally standardized
alphabet and alphabetic order will always be ignored is rather risky,
and most probably just wrong.

> I was under the impression that the Danish and the Finnish also only used
> the 26 letters of lower-alpha. Is this not true?

On similar grounds, no. Besides, for Finnish, the national standard on
alphabetic order gives two options: letter "w" can be regarded as a
variant "v" (hence, IMHO, to be skipped in alphabetic numbering), or
treated as a letter of its own, as in English.

> So far nobody has given me any hard information on the existence of an
> alphabetic Welsh numbering system.

Is there hard information on the existence of _well-defined_ alphabetic
numbering systems in general? The mere fact that current CSS
specifications leave it open what happens after 'Z' or 'z' should be
alarming. If such a simple issue cannot be resolved, how would it be
possible to find correct answers to questions involving cultural
dependencies and varying practices? It m

> There is value in such a generic system -- the problem is that there is a
> huge variety of algorithms to choose from. If we introduce this, I'd like
> to do so in a version _after_ the current one, since it is of much less
> value than the predefined keywords,

I would say that a generic system would be _more_ valuable in many ways,
including definiteness.

It can be a simple one, or a complex one. Or preferably first a simple
one, later extended. The simplest I can imagine is a system where you
_enumerate_ characters to be used, e.g.

ol { list-style-character: "a", "b", "c"; }

(or maybe with just spaces and not commas as separators)

(The only complexity would be a special kind of inheritance where the
first child inherits the the first value etc. And, if desired, the
mechanism could be defined so that after the last character specified,
"aa", "ab" etc. will be used. It takes some effort to formulate this
rigorously and yet understandably. But it would not be very relevant,
since any author who wants to specify his way can do it explicitly, as
long as he knows the length of his longest list, as he should.)

(The values would not be limited to single characters, but I'm following
the CSS tradition of naming properties misleadingly. :-))

It requires some writing by the author, or some generating program, to
produce the list for use with long lists. But I don't think it should be
of primary importance to make it easy to use different alphabetic
numbering schemes for long lists. And for long lists, the proposed keyword
values are really problematic. Explicit enumeration is at least a way of
specifying the "numbers" exactly as desired, as opposite to choosing
between dozens of predefined schemes that are either loosely defined, or
defined in a manner that the author disagrees with.

Actually list-style-character would, en passant, also solve the problem of
specifying "list bullets" that comply with several national standards,
which is not possible by current CSS specifications. E.g.,
ul { list-style-character: "\u2013"; }
(It would be natural to define precedences so that list-style-image wins
list-style-character which wins list-style-type. That way, the mechanism
could be defined in a manner that degrades gracefully to the marker
specified using old properties.)

-- 
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Monday, 15 March 2004 02:09:24 GMT

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