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

Re: CSS Philosophy

From: David Woolley <forums@david-woolley.me.uk>
Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2008 21:26:13 +0000
Message-ID: <477FF5F5.2080102@david-woolley.me.uk>
To: CSS <www-style@w3.org>

James Elmore wrote:
> For example, I like SVG very much. But its purpose is to produce 
> graphics. Many of the things SVG does can be considered 'stylings' and I 

That was the original purpose, although lack of support in IE means that 
one is still limited to bitmaps for HTML documents.  However, most 
current development seems to be directed to making it an alternative for 
Flash, for producing games and other animations, particularly, since 
Adobe dropped out, for mobile devices.

> am not sure exactly how much of SVG should be in CSS and how much should 
> be separate.

Note that the relationship between CSS and SVG has been uneasy and the 
current small device standard doesn't require CSS support.

> Where is the dividing line between actions and styling? Many people 
> worked on CSS 1, 2, and 2.1, and they seem to feel that, at least in 

Actions are normally called behaviours.  At one time, the general 
feeling was that CSS selectors could be used as part of a behaviours 
language that was distinct from CSS.  However I believe that behaviours 
have been taken into CSS itself.

> this case, it belongs in CSS. Is this limited to a few actions, which 
> might influence stylings, or should it be expanded to allow stylings to 
> change with any reasonable action? Or, in the opposite view, should the 
> actions be controlled with ECMAScript/Javascript and the designers 
> provide code which changes the stylings?

The basic difference is between declarative and procedural programming. 
  Historically, CSS-like mechanisms were seen as safer than scripting, 
because what could be done was constrained.  However, I believe that 
there are now too many ways of leaking into scripting from CSS with 
current browsers, that the boundary is far from clear.

> Maybe it would be easier to step back and say (for example) HTML is the 
> 'glue' for web documents. Designers should use MathML for equations, SVG 

Except that XHTML also includes simple text functions, this was the 
fundamental concept behind XML and XHTML!  I have a feeling that Amaya 
actually does allow mixing SVG.  The XML well-formedness requirements 
are there to allow you to, say, mix SVG into an XHTML and have a browser 
that only knows XHTML safely skip over it.

(Note that Microsoft already use VML, the precursor of SVG, embedded in 
"HTML" produced by Office and SQL Server Reporting Services, although I 
don't think they use it for general graphics.  This only works for IE.)

David Woolley
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Received on Saturday, 5 January 2008 21:26:41 UTC

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