W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > html-future@w3.org > May 1998

Re: HTML for life without parole?

From: Todd Fahrner <fahrner@pobox.com>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 16:18:10 -0700
Message-Id: <v03102807b18a57828c09@[]>
To: "Daniel B. Austin" <daniela@cnet.com>, html-future@w3.org
Daniel B. Austin wrote (2:45 PM -0700 5/21/98):

" 	I don't (with all due respect Todd) agree with this. The difference
" logical and physical styles seems quite clear to me. I dont believe that
" HTML markup should supply tags with physical styles at all.

So you believe B and I should go, too?

" The choice
" of how to present emphasis should be made by the client, not the author.

Fine! That's what personal stylesheets are for. EM { font-style: italic
!important; font-weight: normal !important; } will override my goofy choice
in any real CSS1 implementation. No, you don't have to author this
yourself. Any serious CSS1 implementation should ship with several such
examples, IMO. Radio-button UI?

" Many user agents in the future will not be able (and some currently
" cannot)  render
" "BOLD UPPERCASE" in a way that looks good or even readable.

Such UAs are regarded as separate media types in CSS, and as such can
receive custom stylesheets. Or they can ship with appropriate ones, pre-set
to declare !important on all selectors. Toggle off author CSS support and
you get whatever rendering you prefer (or your client defaults to).

" (Unix systems with only fixed width fonts are a good example.)
" Italics and bolds are specific typographical elements of English
" (and possibly some other Western languages). HTML needs to have
" a broader appeal than this to accomodate future developments.

That's precisely why HTML should have no such styling facilities. No
*LAYOUT* facilities either, as these are also culture-specific (paragraph
indication, margin proportions, etc.).

" I also cannot agree that we must build HTML in such a way that it requires
" the use of a style language.

What do you mean by "use a style language?" Nobody has ever seen HTML
outside of a text editor without a stylesheet, and nobody ever will. A
stylesheet has always been required. Browsers ship with a default
stylesheet, but neither authors nor users can touch it. This, to my mind,
is the source of all our troubles. You don't need to author your own
stylesheet to author HTML: you can use any you like, depending on your
client's capabilities, your moods, tastes, or mode of work.

" My concern here is that no good implementation
" of a CSS capable browser will ever be built. We have never had an HTML
" compliant browser, or a good HTML editor. Now we have CSS2, already a
" recommendation, still 18 months or more ahead of  CSS1 being adopted
" for common use! And somebody said something about CSS3...this is crazy.
" By the time using CSS1 (by hand in vi with no possibility of checking it or
" being able to rely on the results) is in common use, what will be actual
" standard be?
" And will anyone build a client that uses it?

CSS1 implementations are progressing, slowly. That's lot farther along than
HTML 5 implementations!  :^)  Thankfully, though, XML in general is coming
to be supported. None of it can be displayed without a style language, so
there's a lot of pressure building.
" 	We hate using all those slow, inflexible tables. But we have no choice,
" if we are to meet even half of our design goals.

This is not a problem with the specs. Not one we can solve. Only one we can
try to provide intellectual leadership toward solving. Engineers and
marketeers can solve it.

" 	The real solution is *not to author in HTML*. Then we can
"standardize it,
" and forget about it and go on to other things, like improving content.


So let's author content with whatever element set we consider better than
HTML's for a broad range of general purpose documents, formalize it as XML,
and call it XHTML 1.0 instead of HTML 5.0. Let HTML's day's be nasty,
brutish, and short. Again, maybe this will have to be transformed -
mechanically - to the "old" HTML for display until style languages catch
up, but at least then we won't have to author in "HTML" anymore.

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
Received on Thursday, 21 May 1998 19:09:49 UTC

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