W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > June 2007

Re: Stylings only possible with Tables

From: Daniel Beardsmore <public@telcontar.net>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 23:33:55 +0100
Message-ID: <467EF153.4060903@telcontar.net>
To: www-style@w3.org

Spartanicus wrote:

> For what it is worth, inline-block is supported by most modern browsers:
> IE5.5 - 7, Opera7+, WebKit derivatives, iCab, Konqueror, sadly with the
> exception of release quality Gecko based browsers.

Wow, I didn't realise you could hack it to work in Internet Explorer too.

I do have one page on my own site that uses inline-block, which I decided 
was OK since it can suffer in IE and Firefox. I feel tempted now to stick in 
a conditional comment to make it work in IE also.

The snag, of course, is finding a hasLayout trigger that I can put in a 
stylesheet, since in my global stylesheet I don't have the option of doing 
conditional HTML comments. Maybe creative use of an enclosing div around my 
inline block area and > would work, like:

  /* hasLayout hack for IE */
  .inlining div { display: inline; zoom: 1 }
  .inlining div div { display: block } /* just in case! */

  /* for sane browsers */
  .inlining > div { display: inline }

But although inline-block helps in quite a few thorny layout cases (and I 
might be OK with making my site break in Firefox just so I can laugh at it) 
it still doesn't solve so many cases. Ideas like my fluid grid, Andrew 
Fedoniuk's flow, and the Advanced Layout module or a suitable replacement 
are still essential.

My view (as I expressed privately to Melinda Grant in an different context) 
is simple. The people setting the standards have to get down from their high 
horses now and then and listen to what people in the field really need.

If you look at HTML 1, it was pretty crap. I'm not honestly sure what anyone 
was thinking. By 2, I think, you could finally lay out tables of data, but 
many Wikipedians still think the correct way to do tables of data is <pre> 
tags and ASCII line art.

Then we got a few more toys. Lucky folk could have CGI scripts and SSI to do 
dynamic sites, but people like me, with ISP Web hosting, had purely static 
pages. I was "saved" by this wondrous frameset idea -- woot for code re-use 
and layout.

Nowadays, the plethora of pre-made, *free* Web publishing software and good 
hosting should take care of the HTML-is-static problem, although you're 
still free to use Geocities if you like.

Where it remains treacherously painful is layout. HTML 1, nothing. HTML 2 
(IIRC), tables of data. At some point, we also got frames. So then people 
figured out that you could make horribly judicious use of frames and tables 
to do all your layout. I've been there, done that, and boy was it hard. I 
was so glad to switch to CSS -- my HTML was readable for the first time. But 
I do use a very simple layout.

It's very tempting and easy for us in-the-know folk to ridicule users for 
their stupid ideas. But people are starting to point out that so often, it's 
an unconscious message that what we've given them, stinks and they can't 
deal with it.

HTML and CSS is one of *the* most obvious cases of a system where people are 
struggling terribly to achieve what they need. And it's the job of the W3C 
(and everyone here on this list) to give them what they need (but in a good 
way, not like Netscape/MS hacks ;)

People figured out over a decade ago that, since screens are 2D, it would be 
really cool if you could apply standard 2D layout concepts to the Web. We do 
it in print publishing, we do it on TV, we do it when we write on paper. So 
  why can't the Web acknowledge that in a 2D environment, we need to support 
effective use of space?

I don't know why it's taking so long. But it is. And we're so very overdue 
giving people 2D layout.

I don't think there's anything terribly hard about it. Supply the page in 
the order a blind person or bot wants it in, and then slot that content into 
a visual framework. That's what my own slots idea is about (I'll get back to 
  James with a better explanation soon) and ditto the slots idea in CSS3 
Advanced Layout, just in a more tricksy way.

We just need to discuss it, pronto, and get something standardised!
Received on Sunday, 24 June 2007 22:37:06 UTC

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