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FW: layout idea

From: Alex Mogilevsky <alexmog@microsoft.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 2009 12:13:23 -0700
To: Jonathan Snook <jonathan.snook@gmail.com>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <7C2F64B551D8664AAD94A28DAC37D0206B6538126A@NA-EXMSG-C103.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>

It took some time to catch up with the thread. It great to see that we are discussing new ideas again, it is a good sign :)

I'd like to comment on kinds of layout functionality that is missing from CSS, which leads to web design being more complex than it needs to be:

	1) Lack of reliable control of whole page layout
	2) Lack of usable 2D auto-sizing layout

(1) is what Advanced Layout, Grid, Matrix are trying to address. Designer has divided a page into areas, which are sized and aligned in predetermined way; now he or she needs to place content in these areas.

(2) of course tables are 2D and they are usable in simple cases. But for anything more complex (like UI), or pretty much anything involving colspans, they quickly become unpredictable and even trying to document what's interoperable now is a horrendously difficult task. 

I am not sure though if there is a proposal so far that would specifically add CSS features for UI. Everybody wants it, there are non-CSS systems that are quite usable, but perhaps a problem with CSS is that vast majority of use cases are doable (although many non-intuitive), so adding new features could be adding yet-another-way-to-do-the-same-thing, which is often is not a good idea. That said - there is clearly an opportunity here.

Now, here is my opinion on where we can go (this is both from standards and from implementers point of view)

	-- take existing proposals through a set of use cases and see what works better. I don't care if it's mine, as long as it works.
	-- be extremely careful combining solutions for (1) and (2). I am certain that there are very simple solutions that take care of majority of use cases for both. But trying to have one new layout that covers all problem cases of today is quite dangerous. For example, it sounds very tempting to produce an auto-sizing grid, but it can become way more complicated than tables, very  quickly...
	-- implement something and try it out. I can't say what exactly IE9 will do here - we don't know yet. Now is a great time to affect that.

Alex

-----Original Message-----
From: www-style-request@w3.org [mailto:www-style-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan Snook
Sent: Friday, March 13, 2009 1:55 PM
To: www-style@w3.org
Subject: layout idea

I've spent a little time over the past week working on an idea. I don't know if it's viable or not or whether something like it has already been proposed (besides Advanced Layout and the Grid module).
But it never hurts to pitch my own stone into the pond.

Matrix Layouts:
http://snook.ca/technical/matrix-layouts/

Along with the accompanying blog post:
http://snook.ca/archives/html_and_css/matrix-layouts

Good or bad, I look forward to some feedback.

-Jonathan Snook
Received on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:14:04 GMT

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