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[css3-text-layout] "design philosophy" or "basic idea" how vertical writing would work in CSS

From: Ishii Koji <kojiishi@gluesoft.co.jp>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2010 22:27:31 -0400
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <A592E245B36A8949BDB0A302B375FB4E09E910CA5C@MAILR001.mail.lan>

As I spent some time thinking myself, I noticed that my question is not about margins and paddings, but is higher level question.

The question is, do you have any "design philosophy" or "basic idea" how vertical writing would work in CSS, and if you do, what is that?

You may wonder what I'm talking about. Vertical writing is not a single feature as you all might have already understood. It is a writing "system" used in East Asia, and it consists of multiple features working together. To design such a big set of features, I hope you agree that it is preferable to have a design philosophy to have better common understandings.

I'm not forcing you to use any philosophies here, but allow me to explain one for your reference and for better understanding of what "design philosophy" stands for in my thought.

Since the word processors with vertical writing feature appeared in the world, which was almost 30 years ago, all systems used one design philosophy. That is, to rotate horizontal writing system clockwise by 90 degree, and make it the "reference platform".

Having the "reference platform" has several benefits. One of them is that all developers can easily share the idea because how horizontal writing system works is a common understanding.

You can also save your work because 80% of features just work in the "reference platform". You can focus on the rest and define features for the 20%. For instance, you might already know, underline would come to left of the text in the "reference platform", but it should come to right in East Asian vertical writing system. You can define a feature that draws "overline" instead of "underline", turn it on automatically in vertical writing system, and you're all set.

Another big benefit comes when you want to add features to the horizontal writing system. Without the "reference platform", you have to spend time thinking what would happen in vertical writing system on every single new feature. But if you have the "reference platform", 80% of the time, it just works. Sometimes it doesn't, and in that case, you must add a new feature and turn it on in vertical writing system as in the "underline" example, but I guess you understand how much having the "reference platform" can save your work now and in future.

I was assuming CSS would use the same design philosophy just because it's the only one I know, and since margins and paddings are swapped in the system while they are not in CSS, I was confused.

Now I think I understand the current situation better. I'm guessing, my questions must come from one of two possibilities.

1. You want to re-invent a new vertical system that I have never seen.
2. You want to use the same philosophy, but margins and paddings are very special cases to be treated differently.

I still don't know which way you guys are trying to go.

Could anyone please tell me how W3C is trying to define vertical writing system in CSS?

If the answer is 1, I would also love to know what the CSS's design philosophy is, so that I can understand the situation better. By sharing the idea, I think you guys are also saved from receiving a lot of questions. For instance, fantasai kindly answered to my questions about text-align and float. But as time goes, you will also receive questions like "how about position" and "how about width and height". If you guys could share the "design philosophy" or "basic idea" how vertical writing would work in CSS, all these answers are automatically resolved, and all of us can focus on "what does not work in the reference platform" questions.

It must help developers referring the specification as well, as it helps having the common understandings, and it helps development of the vertical writing system in their browsers and editors.

I hope this question makes our common understanding much better.

Koji Ishii
Received on Friday, 25 June 2010 02:28:06 UTC

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