RE: Personal stylesheet UI in 4.0 releases (was Re: CSS and presen tational markup)

At 12:22 -0700 6.9.97, Chris Wilson (PSD) wrote:
> You're right, Arnoud, that was primarily a UI issue - which is certainly
> not my area of expertise.  However, I do support this choice *at the
> moment*, because user stylesheets are NOT required - in fact, it's quite
> likely that the vast majority of users would find it annoying to use,
> since those authors who use HTML constructs for presentational purposes
> (I am NOT condoning this) would have their presentations messed up.

Right. Hence the need for a quick toggle mechanism to make personal
stylesheets meaningful. The only thing more annoying than watching
pages disintegrate when viewed with personal stylesheets will be
having to click half-a-dozen times to disable the sheet or select

> I'm
> not saying it wouldn't be a useful feature, just that we have very large
> amount of UI as it is - not only is space at a premium, but we are
> burdened with the task of educating the end user with what the UI
> options actually do, and stylesheets are still at the fringe of the
> average end user's (not the document authors') knowledge.

I'm sure such decisions are difficult and complex - I'm not expecting
you to justify it personally. My suspicion (admittedly cynical), is
that after 3.0's partial implementation and lukewarm reception, CSS
lost rank in the 4.0 marketing strategy, and consequently in the UI.
I can't help pointing out that the web is unique among media in that
"average end users" stand a very good chance of being authors as
well, and I can't think of a better way to build share than to cater
to _common_ user/author interests.

> At this
> point, it's relatively easy to explain what the "use this stylesheet"
> option does - but a selection mechanism for multiple user-side
> stylesheets would be confusing to the majority of our users.

But the "appearance" dialog is not? Multiple stylesheets could be
like appearance dialog states, but much more powerful. BTW, where do
the appearance dialogue settings fall in the cascade?

> I fail to see, however, how XML will increase the need for _user-side_
> stylesheet options.  Obviously, without good, solid document-side
> stylesheet support, XML would be dead in the water with respect to
> delivering presentation - but it would seem that user stylesheets would
> have a hard time hooking in to XML.  If you don't know what elements
> (gids) are going to occur in the XML content you download, you can't
> really write a stylesheet for them, can you?

That's why I chose intranets and special-interest groups as examples.
Such groups could develop shared sets of classes/elements and share
stylesheets that offer powerful custom viewing options - if only
there were a UI. Imagine being able to bookmark stylesheets from
various rocket science sites, then applying them across sites or in
different parts of a single one, so certain classes are highlighted,
for instance, and others obscured. Isn't that what XML will allow?
Why wait 'til 5.0 to enable this sort of development?

> I didn't realize that CSS was
> positioned as 'an "accessibility" enhancement.'

So why's it in "View...Options...Advanced...Accessibility"?

> Incidentally, I can see a way to use our CSS Object Model to write a
> document stylesheet tester - that is, a way to load documents and flip
> through several different stylesheets applied to that document to make
> sure the document still looks okay, without having to mess with the
> document itself.  If someone wants to remind me of this in about a week
> and a half, I can write this up in script and send it out - but I'm
> afraid I'm far too busy to work on it this week.

That sounds great. You know: couldn't you rig something up with
frames and this script to make a custom personal UI, to correct the
decision I've been criticizing?

Todd Fahrner

The printed page transcends space and time. The printed page, the
infinitude of books, must be transcended. THE ELECTRO-LIBRARY.

--El Lissitzky, 1923

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