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Re: Proposal: :column pseudo-class

From: Orion Adrian <orion.adrian@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 10:35:58 -0400
Message-ID: <abd6c8010507030735567f5f32@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

On 7/3/05, David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> 
> > Let the user's be damned? Is that the attitude? I'm not saying, don't
> > give them the ability to brand, but don't give them the ability to
> > abuse.
> 
> That's the attitude of commercial web browser developers. W3C has
> a more enlightened attitude, but it knows that if it deliberately
> ignores what businesses developing web pages *want* the browser
> developers will simply provide those features anyway.  (The
> original concept paper for HTML said colours had no place in HTML,
> but that didn't stop Netscape adding them.)

Well Netscape was right though. The original constructs that Netscape
offered in the short term view were good for users. Color is an
important part of usability. Attractive objects are easier to use than
unattractive ones according to a series of studies done in Japan and
Europe.

But what they wanted was the ability to create web applications. When
this was realized it should have been up to the W3C to make a Web App
language that would handle that need. No one rose to the task, instead
clogging up a document language with what are needs for web
applications.

It should be noted that Micsosoft's upcoming XAML/Metro offering
separates documents from interfaces. Please no more religious wars. If
Abode was doing it, I'd say so.

> > Operating systems have had a pretty good run and have managed to not
> > give application developers that much control. The operating system
> > still controls the location of icons, titles, menus, toolbars, status
> > bars along with a host of other layouts. Why is the web so different?
> 
> In a lot of cases, developers re-implement widgets because they
> don't like the GUI platform's widgets.  There are very few new
> computing applications, so computing is becoming more and more
> a fashion industry.

Yeah, we shoot those programmers. But most applications don't have any
custom widgets for the sake of custom widgets at least on the
platform. As for computing being a fashion industry, I think that's an
unfair assesment. What has happened is that usability studies have
shown that attractive interfaces are in fact more usable. There is an
excellent explanation in "Emotional Design" by Don Norman,

Also there is more to computers than raw computing applications (as I
understand what you're talking about above). While I don't personally
like the idea of applications, but rather loose interfaces, that's
what applications are. Each is attempting to specialize itself to a
particular set of tasks. That's not fashion, that's what's needed.

> > Is it that we gave up where they didn't? Is it that they did a better
> > job of education? Is it that they made it easier?
> 
> To the extent that developers don't try and better the standard mechanisms,
> it is partly because the platforms are designed for applications, but
> HTML is designed for documents.  It is used for applications because
> web browsers come pre-installed, so it removes a major cost in
> maintaining applications of installing them and managing conflict
> with other applications (e.g. DLL hell).

I'm not saying the web isn't great for web applications. But the
languages should have been separate. One for interfaces, one for
documents. Now we have this mix that refuses to separate. As for DLL
hell, it was solved a number of years ago by some of the platforms
that had it (namely Microsoft, the biggest headache). As far as the
other problem of maintenance, Microsoft has also solved that problem
with zero-touch deployment (I think that's the name).

> Games, in particular, tend not to follow user interface guidelines,
> nor to media players these days.  DVDs don't use consistent styling
> of menus.

Games can't follow interface guidelines since their entire purpose is
to be hard to use and also to immerse you in the world. A game that
followed proper application guidelines would be a small window with a
single button called "I win" which would state that you won. Not very
fun really. Media players do follow guidelines. It just depends on
which ones you're talking about. DVD's are very problematic.

> Another aspect of this is that marketing people often want web
> applications to emualate the widgets of their preferred GUI platform,
> and, where it isn't going into artistic metaphors, development effort
> goes into forcing that behaviour.

Yes they do and it's perfectly normal behavior. It's also the right
thing to do. The issue at hand is that it's not doing that everywhere.
A good application should look and feel like a Windows application on
Windows, a Mac application on a Mac and a Linux application on Linux
(with proper Gnome and KDE variants). This, by the way, is also the
failure of Java UI. It wants to create its own user interface design
foreign to the platforms it runs on. That and it's ugly.

Orion Adrian
Received on Sunday, 3 July 2005 14:36:03 GMT

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