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Re: Collapsing 0 width margin; CSS version system

From: Brian Sexton <discussion-w3c@ididnotoptin.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2005 18:22:40 -0800
Message-ID: <003401c4f6bb$42b54630$651aa143@desktop>
To: "Larry Israel" <lisrael@cruzio.com>
Cc: <www-style@w3.org>

Larry,

> That is only the case because CSS lacks a standard method of version
> control (for lack of the proper term) -- the CSS equivalent of a doctype
> declaration. Isn't that the case?

I have often thought that might be useful myself.  It would certainly make 
things easier for CSS validators.

> And of course collapsing margins is only one very small example. There are
> numerous other ways in which the CSS standard could take a major leap
> forward, as long as backward compatibility is not broken in the process.
> With a well-considered method of version control, those major leaps could
> be taken, couldn't they?

I agree, although I would personally prefer if newer specifications would 
clarify ambiguous issues and otherwise take steps to encourage future 
implementations to be both standardized and correct.

> Until such versioning becomes part of the standard, knowledgable web
> authors will continue to devise and use a wide variety of CSS hacks
> [1][2][3][4]. Of course these hacks are a major pain in the butt, but they
> are considered a necessary evil, much like table layout, spacer gifs, and
> many other workarounds used to be. It would be nice to get rid of these
> hacks, or at least reduce the number of them that are needed. A
> well-implemented CSS version system would be a major step in that
> direction.

Devising and implementing such hacks is indeed a major pain--far more than 
adjusting old pages would be--but unfortunately, the prevailing opinion 
seems to be that it is more important to not change things than it is to 
make things better.

Perhaps none of this matters, though.  Until the lowest common denominator 
is not a browser that has not had a major update in years, no amount of 
improving CSS will matter because developers will still have to devise and 
implement annoying hacks for it and resist using CSS to its full potential. 
Like it or not (and I do not), CSS progress and CSS use are both being held 
back by Internet Explorer for Windows and it will likely be quite some time 
before Microsoft is ready to start deploying a newer version with better 
standards support.  Even then, if it is only available with new versions of 
Windows, it will spread at OS-upgrade speed rather than 
downloadable-update-recommended-by-Windows-Update speed, so it will likely 
be quite a long time until Internet Explorer 6 has been supplanted by a new 
version and realistically, that is likely to happen before Internet Explorer 
6 can be supplanted by better browsers from other vendors no matter how good 
they become.

I apologize for being a discouraged realist for a moment there; I will try 
to go back to being my usual idealistic and optimistic self now.  ;)


Kind regards,

Brian Sexton 
Received on Monday, 10 January 2005 02:22:36 GMT

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