W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > December 2008

(wrong string) éf. : Re: Controlling size of a tab character (U+0009)

From: <leslie.brown@evidian.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 01:10:20 +0100
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF34B41900.5EF4ADF5-ONC125751A.007F268B@evcl.evidian.com>

David Woolley wrote:
> I suspect, when I check the existing tab definition I will find that 
> it is a token implementation, rather than something that was 
> carefully though about, and intended to be extended.  I think, 
> before extending it, one needs to go back and design enhanced tabs 
> for CSS from first principles.

If anyone ever does decide to "design enhanced tabs from first 
principles" they'll need to be very explicit about defining the 
behaviour when a tab takes the text past the last available 
(defined or implicit) tab stop on the line. What should the residual 
text do?
- Go to the start of a new line
- Go to the first tab stop on the new line
- Fill the space available at the right of the current line
  (and if there's not enough room?)

I'm speaking from pre-web experience.  I still have nightmares 
about cleaning up less-than-expert people's Word documents. 
They had a habit of using as many tabs as seemed necessary to force 
a new line without starting a new paragraph. Applying a style 
with a different typeface and different tab stops gave a result 
reminiscent of ee cummings without the poetry.

And that was before we had thousands of available fonts plus 
explicit control over word spacing, letter-spacing, rtl/ltr,...

My personal feeling is that tabs are intrinsically incompatible 
with richly formatted text. If you want to line text up in
columns, use a table?

An exception: preformatted text. It would be VERY practical
to be able to adjust the default tab stops (every 8 characters 
in HTML 4.01) when including, for example, heavily indented 
source code.

Les Brown
Received on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 00:11:04 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Monday, 27 April 2009 13:55:17 GMT