W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2010

Re: Making pt a non-physical unit

From: Giuseppe Bilotta <giuseppe.bilotta@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2010 09:27:28 +0100
Message-ID: <cb7bb73a1001070027j420ce107wd3ad459e2999dd84@mail.gmail.com>
To: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu>
Cc: www-style <www-style@w3.org>
On Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 10:19 PM, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu> wrote:
>> If UAs make an effort instead to implement things properly,
>> working around broken sites with something similar to the Quirks mode
>> or other workaround used to deal with messy pages, it can be fixed.
> We're not talking about "messy pages".  We're talking a large fraction of
> pages out there, many of them quite new and modern.  There's no way to tell
> them apart from other pages...

By reading further down the list I get the impression that pt is the
only physical unit that is abused by web-centric designers. This might
suggest that a fixed px/pt ratio 'CSS Quirks mode' could be enabled
when (for a screen medium?) a stylesheet uses only px, pt and no other
physical units (and maybe pt for fonts only).

>> I don't expect it to be fixed overnight, obviously, but with the
>> growing attention to web standards conformance and correctness,
>> expect it to (slowly) gain ground, just like all other aspects of
>> proper web design are.
> The only way this would gain ground is if some UAs kept the current specced
> behavior (which is broken for their users in many cases) until enough web
> designers had high-DPI screens on their development machines (several years
> at least; possibly longer) _and_ used the relevant UAs on those machines
> that they'd notice things are broken.
> In the meantime, users, who are by and large using higher dpi screens than
> developers because developing on mobile devices is very rare while usage is
> becoming more and more common, would run into all sorts of problems on a
> large fraction of sites.  Hence the UA mentioned above would be continuously
> losing market share, making it less likely that web designers would use it.

I guess this bogs down to the unwillingness of users to report
misbehaving sites to the webmaster, as they assume that it's rather
the UA which is broken, rather.

A one-click "Does this site look broken?" UI feature that allowed the
user to simultaneously activate 'CSS Quirks' mode _and_ report the
broken site (to the UA developers which would then forward the request
over to the web designer) might help. The web designer would then
receive an email saying "Your site doesn't display correctly on
such-and-so devices because it uses a mix of px and pt. Please
consider using px for font sizes too, with the conversion table blah
blah". (And no, I don't think that would help one little bit.) Plus,
there's the problem of these sites being most noticeably broken on
handheld devices, which don't exactly have abundance of UI space for
this kind of signaling .... *sigh*

(It would be interesting to see how many sites are actually affected
by this px/pt mess.)

So the biggest problem is reaching out to web designers. Some kind of
informative campaign about this would maybe have some effect? For
example: do web designers have some reference sites that look things
up now and again? Tutorials they learn from? Validation systems they
make use of?

All of these could probably mention the problem: "if you use px and pt
at the same time, your site would look broken on a hi-res, small size
device such as a typicial handheld. Consider sizing fonts in px too,
with this conversion table: ...". And maybe mention that UA have to
resort to some kind of quirks mode to cope with such broken designs.

I don't know if the CSS spec itself could mention this, but CSS
validation sites and programs could raise such a warning in these
situations, and the tutorials can mention it too.

Giuseppe "Oblomov" Bilotta
Received on Thursday, 7 January 2010 08:28:20 UTC

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