W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org > February 1997

Re: 1.5: Discuss link characteristics?

From: Jon Bosak <bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM>
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 20:10:44 -0800
Message-Id: <199702160410.UAA12430@boethius.eng.sun.com>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
CC: bosak@atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM
[Martin Bryan:]

| The most important thing about CSS is the C (the SS is a pain!). We
| need something like C-DSSSL-O and an equivalent C-Interact. For the
| latter we need a way for servers to send down a pointer to a default
| behaviour and have users say "replace the default behaviour with this
| behaviour" (a catalog for Java applets?).

I absolutely disagree with this.  The SS part of CSS has some merit as
an efficient way to specify non-structure-driven typography, but the C
part is totally bogus -- not because there is anything wrong with the
idea of reader control, but because diddling with stylesheets is the
wrong way to go about it.

The basic idea of "cascading" is that the publisher specifies a
stylesheet and the user specifies a stylesheet and the stylesheet that
finally gets applied is somehow halfway between the two.  Setting
aside all the problems involved in defining the right compromise under
every conceivable set of circumstances, this approach simply
misunderstands what users need and want.

I've been in the publishing business all my adult life and am a whole
lot more sensitive to typographical issues than the average reader.
But when I pick up an issue of Wired magazine, for example, I don't
say to myself, "Gee, I wish I could change this typeface to Garamond
and adjust this gradient fill over here."  No, I say, "Jesus, I wish I
could make the type a lot bigger and get that horrible background to
go away so that I could read this."  And that's exactly what I say
about documents like that on the Web.  Even as someone who has spent a
lot of time thinking about formatting, I have no desire whatsoever to
change the design; all I want to be able to do is to read it
comfortably.  And in my experience, this level of control is all that
the overwhelming majority of users want, too.

This is not a stylesheet problem.  This is an accessibility problem.
And diddling with stylesheets is a horribly inefficient way to solve
it.  The efficient way is to provide buttons or menu controls that
simply let the user scale up all the type sizes and make the wallpaper
go away.  If you give people that much, not one in a thousand will
want anything more, and even that one will bless you for making the UI
for the typical case so much easier to use.

Received on Monday, 17 February 1997 03:42:28 UTC

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