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Re: [csswg-drafts] [css-fonts] system-ui-serif, system-ui-monospaced, and system-ui-rounded (#4107)

From: Maciej Stachowiak via GitHub <sysbot+gh@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2019 22:15:08 +0000
To: public-css-archive@w3.org
Message-ID: <issue_comment.created-511157592-1563056107-sysbot+gh@w3.org>
@AmeliaBR I think your objection has three core elements. I'll try to restate it, and please let me know if I got anything wrong. I'll use the `system-ui-serif` example, but this could apply to all of these:

1. **Objection:** Introducing `system-ui-serif` to mean the system serif font (where that is defined and is not Times) is unnecessary, because the browser could just change the meaning of `serif` to be, say "New York" on Apple platforms.

2.  **Objection:**`system-ui-serif` is redundant with `serif`, because they don't have meaningfully distinct use cases for authors.

3.  **Objection:**Introducing new symbolic font names is sad, because the old names like `serif` allow customization in many browsers, but `system-ui` and its possible future friends do not.

Let me know if I missed a key part of your objections.

Now, addressing these in turn:

1. **Response:** In practice, browsers can't change the default meaning of `serif`. Nearly all browsers map it to Times by default, and some web content has come to depend on this. The default Times mapping is necessary for web compatibility, at the very least for desktop web content. It's true that the user could customize it, and some website may subvert author intent or outright break if the user does that.

2. **Response:** `system-ui-serif` has a distinct use case from `serif` for authors. It means: give me a serif font that matches the system UI appearance, because I'd like this web content to blend in with the system look. On the other hand, `serif`, depending on author expertise, means one of "give me a serif font, I don't care which" or "give me Times, that's what I see on my system so that's what users will get". Neither of these is the same as "match the system standard serif font". In reality, the alternative to `system-ui-serif` for its intended use case is a long fallback list of the known system serif fonts, carefully ordered to avoid the wrong one appearing on the wrong system.

3. **Response:** Customizability can be valuable. On some systems, the system fonts are customizable. It would make sense for the `system-ui` family of symbolic font names to follow system customization, rather than browser-only customization. But, in any case, authors already have access to requesting specific fonts by name, in such cases, the font is not customizable at all. In the absence of `system-ui-serif` and the like, websites would have to specify fallback lists of exact fonts to get the same effect. And that isn't customizable even in theory, or at the system level.



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Received on Saturday, 13 July 2019 22:15:10 UTC

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