Re: Structural Markup / SPACER vs. other markup (was: CSS and Eccentric Poems)

On Tue, 2 Jul 1996, Chris Josephes wrote:

> What's so difficult about STRONG or CODE?  If a person REALLY wanted to 
> learn how to write structured documents and how to take advantage of that 
> structure they'd learn exactly what these tags are for, and why they 
> should be used over B, I or TT.

It's hard for the end user to understand that EM means you place emphasis on
the phrase. It's much easier to make him understand that I renders the phrase
in italics. Especially if this end user (in the days of HotDog and Mozilla
Gold where every clueless newbie builds his own page - and I have no direct
objection to this mind you) only uses ONE browser and ONE screen size on ONE
platform and doesn't even realise that these things vary.

Most users use "WYSIWYG HTML Editors" much like Word Processors. The thing is
(and this is the big secret) that an HTML editor can NEVER be WYSIWYG because
you always G something different depending on how you S a web page :-)

If a user sees WYSIWYG he thinks that he creates something like a graphic:
Everyone will see his page exactly as it appears on his screen.  That's one
of the primary reasons I still use joe for my HTML editing. And I *still*
make mistakes. For instance, I created and maintain my school's web site (URL
in my sig) and decided on a nice orange, distinguished-like background for
the pages. What I didn't count on was that all the computers in my school
have 16-color displays and all the teachers that saw what I created where
repulsed at the auful orange & red background that made the pages illegible! 

What I would stand behind is that in a possible next, CSS1-supporting version
of HTML, the tags B, I, U, TT, FONT, CENTER and several others be supported,
but at least be marked as depreciated. HTML should be, in my view, a language
for structure with occasional reference to pre-formatted sections (like
images and PRE text). And that is all, because CSS can cater for the rest.

> What could be more straightforward than settings the margins for a 
> paragraph, such as described in CSS?  In all honestly it makes a lot more 
> sense to describe how a paragraph (or any other element) will be 
> formatted instead of deciding how the whitespace around the paragraph 
> will be formatted.

The difference here is that in arbitrarily inserting space inside text (NOT
having constant spacing between words or before paragraphs) you want an
*element* of sorts, because it's just a patch of space trough which the
background should bleed. Vertical spacers are a more elegant way than doing
<BR><BR><BR> (yuck!) which is often used by many an unknowing web designer
today. Horizontal spacer is, as I see it, a more accurate (since it deals
with pixels) way of doing &nbsp;. But why don't NSML lovers use &nbsp; 
instead? Has it evaded everyone's attention that this wonderful little
element is used in NSML since about a release ago? It's great! It can create
empty table cells, it can prevent lines from wrapping, and it's essentially
an actual SPACE character that isn't considered whitespace! PLUS it's 
theoretically in em and not pixels since it's just a space character. 
Used with a fixed-width font it can do miracles, YES, EVEN FOR ECCENTRIC 


Vertical spacer is more than covered by CSS1. Horizontal spacer effects 
can be duplicated by PRE tags or &nbsp; elements (I can't check the specs 
& drafts now but is &nbsp; included in any of these?). The third type 
whose name evades my memory (my net connection is down, sorry, can't 
check the release notes now), is just a way of inserting an empty box in 
your document. I still                    don't get the usefullness of 
such an action! Point me                  to a page that actually uses 
such a structure and has                   good reason of having a big 
rectangular patch of                      space empty in the middle of a 
page and I'll admit it's                  useful in some way. But I don't 
see any pages like that                   anywhere, and God Almighty 
knows that I'd never need something like that in any of my pages! :-)

Bottom line: Down with SPACER!

================== Stephanos Piperoglou - stephanos@hol.gr ==================
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