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Re: We are where we are.... but how did we get here?

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 00:15:14 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200506292315.j5TNFEW02796@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

> I've been searching the W3C website for explanations and reasons why we are
> where we are. Are the facts and explanations available or is it all lost in
> the mists of time and buried in archives?

In general, the reasoning behind decisions is confidential and only 
known to paid up members, so I'll have to guess a bit here.

> For example I would love someone to write an explanation on the W3C website
> behind the box model the W3C choose to adopted?

I imagine this is an attempt to produce a simple but complete model.
The difference between product marketing specifications and standards
is that the former don't have to specify the awkward cases, whereas
the latter have to do so, even if to say that the result is explicitly
undefined (although, as authors don't read specifications, having
explicitly undefined behaviour can be unsafe on the web).  The result
is that standards aim to minimise the worst case complexity, whereas
commercial specs only worry about the easy cases (e.g. the ones the
salesman demonstrates).

> Why is a second pass unworkable? (computing power has increased
> significantly since 1998... I can play Doom on my phone :-)

What is being talked about here isn't really a second pass, but a
true second pass is undesirable because it means that you have to 
wait for the complete page (well over a minute on many commercial
sites) before you can display anything, or have to change the page
after it has been displayed.

What's really being talked about is having a second set of combining
rules that are applied to the inherited values to get the rendered

> Why can't I style a div to align centre using align:center but instead have
> to use margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto? 

Because this would interact with margins, and the result would probably
be an even more complex specification (i.e. more rules for a competent
author to have to learn).  It would be more complex because not only
would you have to describe the results of various margin combinations,
but also the results of combinations of your new property and margins.

Again, the point is that a standard has to consider all possibilities,
not just what will go in the sales demo, so what may seem complex is
possibly the simplest self-consistent solution.

Incidentally, the align attribute in non-strict HTML is a horrible 
combination of two different things.
Received on Wednesday, 29 June 2005 23:16:59 UTC

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