W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2009

Re: stability of root em unit spec

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 10:12:06 -0600
Message-ID: <dd0fbad0901070812j2903b824v2877770d8d5df0f2@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Philip TAYLOR" <chaa006@gmail.com>
Cc: "Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd)" <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>, "Mikko Rantalainen" <mikko.rantalainen@peda.net>, www-style@w3.org, "Håkon Wium Lie" <howcome@opera.com>

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 10:02 AM, Philip TAYLOR <chaa006@gmail.com> wrote:
> Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>> On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 8:38 AM, Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd)
>> <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk> wrote:
>>> I really do not accept that the statistics support this hypothesis.
>> "in", "cm", "mm", "em", "ex" and "px"
>> Well, it's an accident of history and momentum, then.
>> "in" is lifted straight from English abbreviations, where compactness
>> is an important quality because they were meant to be *written*.
> We are in danger of wasting effort on trivia, so I will summarise
> my position and then shut up.

Heh, true.  My fault.

> 1) The traditional way of writing feet and inches in English
> is as in 1'2" (1 foot, 2 inches); "ft" and "in" are used, but
> so are "foot", "feet", "inch" and "inches".

True, but using quote characters complicates parsing, and using the
actual unicode characters is a non-starter.

> 2) The primary benefit of remaining consistent with 2-letter
> length units is that it eliminates all risk of forgetting which
> units require only two letters and which require three or more.

I believe the benefit of remembering "root em is just like em, but
with an "r" in front" is higher.  I personally would find it confusing
to have to remember that root-em is just like em but *without* an e,
but that's up to personal preference.

I'm loathe to bikeshed on this issue, of course.  But I'm also loathe
to have an explicit precedent set on this issue ("length units must be
two letters long") that may bite us in the future with new length
units.  We of course want to abbreviate things as short as possible,
to reduce typing speed, reduce possibility of typos (more letters
means more chance of a mistype), and increase reading speed.  But
clarity also has a place here.

Received on Wednesday, 7 January 2009 16:12:49 UTC

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