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[css3-fonts] Orthogonality relationships in generic font families

From: Nicholas Shanks <contact@nickshanks.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 22:32:58 +0200
Message-Id: <CAD56E33-ED60-4B6E-BF0C-5A7826928553@nickshanks.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

I would like to make a proposal for an extension to the generic font  
family part of the css3-fonts specification.


The ‘monospace’ generic family should be seen as orthogonal to  
‘serif’ and ‘sans-serif’ in the generic font‐family fallback  
keywords. Both monospace, and its converse ‘proportional’ would be  
allowed to be specified in conjunction with serif or sans‐serif (in  
either order). Proportional is to be assumed if absent.
I envisage sites using it in this way:

code { font-family: "Consolas", monospace serif, monospace; } /* good  
for 1/l/I/O/0 */
code .comment { font-family: monospace sans-serif, monospace; } /*  
distinctive from code */
code .headerdoc { font-family: "Constantia", proportional, sans- 
serif; } /* good for prose */

Where, for example a UA without the ClearType fonts installed,  
rendering the <code> element, would recognise ‘monospace serif’ as  
meaning “use Courier, but not Andale Mono.” Older UAs would look  
for a font called "monospace serif", not find one, and fall back to  
the CSS2.1 generic family, monospace. If older UAs did find a font  
family exactly called "monospace serif" then I would guess from the  
name that it too would be suitable!
Similarly, the introduction of the ‘proportional’ keyword is to  
override the inherited monospace state (in my example all elements in  
the headerdoc class would also be in the comment class). It would not  
alter the serif/sans‐serif axis state, so the sans‐serif state of  
class .comment would be inherited when not explicitly stated.

This concept could be further extended to distinguish between ‘serif  
cursive’ (Monotype Corsiva, Vivaldi) and ‘sans-serif  
cursive’ (Bradley Hand, Tempus Sans). The fallback style for older  
UAs would be ‘cursive’, and must still be supplied by the web  
developer.

I don't expect this to be applicable to the ‘fantasy’ family,  
however, which may always be considered sans‐serif.


Here are some prior requests by myself to people who I thought might  
be listening, but aparently weren't. They basically repeat what I  
wrote above, but less thoughtfully.
http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2006-July/006859.html
https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=17069
A CSS mailing list post I thought I had made several years earlier  
covering the same seems to have fallen between the digital cracks  
though.

— Nicholas Shanks.
Received on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 20:33:37 GMT

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