Re: Frames and Documents

Note: This conversation is difficult to follow because it started in the
context of Netscape's FRAME tag and appears to have drifted into the
layout proposal without warning (at least that is my inference from the
fact that it was Cced to www-style by Steve - I don't subscribe to
www-style right now - so if you want me to see a reply to this, Cc me).

On Thu, 29 Aug 1996, Steve Knoblock wrote:

> Benjamin,
> I really feel the use of tables for page layout is wrong. 

Probably. It is mostly a philosophical issue. People who are attached to
the model of 'a table is for expressing tabular information' will never be
convinced by the people who are attached to 'a table is a way of
expressing a visual relationship between items', or vice versa.

But the use of _frames_ is also wrong as a way to do page layout. As
designed by Netscape [1] - frames are primarily a way to transclude other
entities in a grossly block oriented manner. They contain no real single
document layout support (it is *possible* to use them that way, but
seriously ugly). It was a serious error to label 'stylesheet based
2-dimensional HTML layout' [2],[3] as 'frames'.  They are not the same
thing and it causes a great deal of confusion about what you mean when you
say 'frames'.

One is for document transclusion + a small amount of 2-dimensional layout
as a side effect, the other for 2-dimensional page layout + some
transclusion as a side effect (at least people say it can transclude
things - I can't see how to do so directly, it seems to require the use of
<OBJECT> [4]). The *RIGHT* combination long term seems to be to use
OBJECT+CSS1+Layout. The *WORKING* combination today is to use

> I want to be able to flow the text into specified areas like text boxes
> or into columns without having to specify layout in html. I think the
> proposed frames is good at least for presentation *on the page.* But for
> presentation of multiple documents within frames, perhaps more thinking
> needs to done. 

Probably. But this is orthagonal to the issue of single document page
presentation 2-d layout vs. multi-document transclusion. Netscape frames
just are not the right answer for presentation at all, and only a
half-solution to the 'document transclusion' problem. 

> Tables just trap the text. If you have two columns, you must paste the
> left text into the left column and the right text into the right. If you
> add text to a column you must do a lot of this kind of editing, possibly
> over more than one page. And you are specifying a layout. I would like
> the same document text to appear in columns or not---depending on the
> style sheet attached. 

Believe me, I am *quite* familiar with the problems of tables and
multi-column text [5]. But trying to extend Netscape's frames is not the
solution to it (neither are Netscape 3.0's new tags [6]). Sigh. 

Benjamin Franz

[1] "FRAMES"

[2]  "WD-layout-960608
      Frame-based layout via Style Sheets
      W3C Working Draft 08-Jun-1996"
[3] "WD-css1-960726
     Cascading Style Sheets, level 1
     W3C Working Draft 26-July-96"

[4] "WD-object-960422
     Inserting objects into HTML
     W3C Working Draft 22-Apr-96"
[5] "Advertise It! Net Images Web Classifieds"

     RELEASE 3.0"