Re: Real layout

On Thu, 16 Jan 1997, Todd Fahrner wrote:

> The file http://world.std.com/~wij/glad/tschichold.gsp
> illustrates precisely the kind of behavior I hope will eventually be
> supported (not enforced) in a layout model for HTML, with the browser
> window aspect and area acting as the first and most important influence
> on how all elements within are positioned, shaped, and scaled.
> Tschichold's formula for books is not, of course, particularly
> authoritative or appropriate for browser windows, but I feel strongly
> that any real layout model must accommodate similar geometrical
> priorities, and allow similar performance characteristics to
> "Geometer's Sketchpad". 

In 1994 I came across the work of Louis Weitzman at the Media Lab.
Louis used a simple constraint model to drive layout so that it
adapts to changes in base font size, window size etc.

The idea that good layout can be distilled to a few rules plus some
declarative annotations intrigues me. As the window size is increased,
the rules adjust the spacing accordingly, but this is interrupted by
phase changes (ice into water into steam) which cause more dramatic
effects, e.g. switching from a single column to a multiple column layout.

The Web has yet to explore paged displays, sticking to the safer
territory of scrolling windows. Layout principles based upon ideas
of symmetry for positioning and scaling images seem very attractive
based upon analysis of glossy periodicals. My analysis suggests that
it would be relatively easy to author documents using these richer
ideas. Much easier than the current over-reliance on tables, single
pixel gifs and font tags!

Today's emphasis on absolute positioning using pixels seems so weak,
although understandable from the perspective of people still firmly
wedded to paper.  A more imaginative approach to software is needed
for the next generation of browsers!

This seems a very fertile territory for research projects.

-- Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org> tel: +1 617 258 5741 fax: +1 617 258 5999
   World Wide Web Consortium 545 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02178

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