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

Re: flowing around both sides of a float

From: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2008 14:27:27 +0000
Message-ID: <477A4DCF.3010804@david-woolley.me.uk>
To: CSS <www-style@w3.org>

James Elmore wrote:

> some of the proposals will be difficult to implement. Also, some will 
> not be immediately used, simply because they are not known to be 
> available. But providing tools which make CSS a more complete system of 
> styling documents will make CSS a more useful tool set.

One of the things that makes a good computing standard is that it 
achieves a lot with a little.  One of the things that leads to the 
eventual death of computing standards is that whilst they start that 
way, they eventually try to do everything.  As a result they get too 
complex (CSS is already well beyond the point where most authors 
understand it well enough to be able to know whether there are features 
to do things they want).

Eventually, a new simple standard takes over to start the cycle again. 
(In the short term, it can be good for salaries and training course 
sellers, because of the amount of knowledge required to make the 
standard do the things it is now capable of but was never originally 
intended for.  The demise is often delayed because non-expert specifiers 
and managers "learn" that the old standard is *the* thing to us use.)

Requiring use cases for new features slows the decay, by placing limits 
on the bloat.

In the case of CSS, more appropriate technology may be the use of final 
form page description languages (the designer of the average web site 
still seems to me to be striving to use HTML/CSS as a PDL). the use of 
general purpose programming languages, and, possibly tools that work at 
a rather higher level than CSS (e.g. for pullout quotes, decide how many 
to use and where to place them).

A combination of these approaches may actually be called for, as more 
complex layout tactics may only work properly when optimized by a human 
designer, so the tool may need to propose solutions, but the result may 
need to be frozen in PDL form, so as to capture the designer's input to 
the process. (Freezing the layout is, of course, undesirable in terms of 
the original aims of HTML, and accessibility.)

There is nothing new, of course, about the concept of using powerful 
author side tools and then freezing the presentation!

David Woolley
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Received on Tuesday, 1 January 2008 14:27:53 UTC

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