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Re: [CSS3 Text] Re: controlling tab size

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2007 17:03:04 +0200
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-Id: <200708081703.04893.bert@w3.org>

On Friday 03 August 2007 14:56, Niklas Åkerlund wrote:
> On 8/3/07, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net> wrote:
> > Niklas Åkerlund wrote:
> > >  > From: James Justin Harrell <herorev@yahoo.com
> > >  >
> > >  > Is there any hope of getting a property to control how far
> > >  > apart the tab stops are? The default 8em is much wider than I
> > >  > prefer. I would really appreciate a property like "tab-size"
> > >  > to control this.
> > >  >
> > >  > tab-size: 4em;

If you have a file with tabs that are not 8 characters apart, you can 
use "expand" (under Unix) to convert the tabs to spaces before you add 
the HTML mark-up.

> > >
> > > I managed to dig this up in the archive, because to me this
> > > really is an issue. And nothing seems to have come out of it.
> > > yet.... ...

All W3C technologies are a compromise between rich semantics (i.e., easy 
to read for computers) and ease of use (i.e., easy to write for 
humans). Tabulation is a remnant from the days of typewriters that may 
sometimes be slightly easier than real tables, but it really has no 
place in a semantic Web.

The TAB character in ASCII is a control code, like formfeed (FF), 
carriage return (CR), line feed (LF) or escape (ESC). They used to 
control the movement of printers. CR and LF still make sense as line 
separators (in <pre>), because it's more convenient to type a LF than 
tags such as <l>...</l>. But FF, TAB and ESC (and BEL, BS, etc.) are 
not needed for HTML and similar documents.

It is true that we are missing a type of tabular layout in CSS level 2 
that allows overflow into the next column, e.g., like this:

    Short item . . . . . . . . . . 12345.67
    Another short item . . . . . . .  12.34
    An item with a description that is too
      wide for one column  . . . .  1234.56

There are ideas for how to do this completely generally, but by far the 
most common case is that there is a left-aligned part and a 
right-aligned part with something flexible in between (typically dots 
or space). We may stop at that common case, where there are exactly 
two "tab stops" (in typewriter terminology), viz., the left and right 
edges. See http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/WD-css3-gcpm-20070504/#leaders

However, to get this layout, you will have to mark-up the parts. A TAB 
character doesn't replace a tag: <p>Short item <span 
class=value>12345.67</span></p>, etc.



Bert
-- 
  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Wednesday, 8 August 2007 15:03:14 GMT

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