RE: [i18n-html-tech] some comments

Hello Bert,

Thankyou for your comments on the first WD of  Authoring Techniques for XHTML & HTML Internationalization.  Please find responses below.

The version you commented on is 

Note also that we intend to release new working drafts before the AC meeting.  We have, in the meantime, split the original document up into 3 topic-focussed documents.  We aim to produce more such documents as we develop the material.  The in-edit versions of the new documents are:
  Characters and Encodings 1.0
  Specifying the language of content 1.0
  Handling Bidirectional Text 1.0

There is also a new outline overview document at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
> [] On Behalf Of Bert Bos
> Sent: 09 October 2003 22:58
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: [i18n-html-tech] some comments
> On Thu, 9 Oct 2003, Richard Ishida wrote:
> > [1]
> Some comments:
> 0) This promises to become a very useful document. It is very readable 
> and looks nice. Please keep it like this when the missing sections are 
> added.

Thanks !

> 1) Nice icons :-)

Thanks again ! :-)

> 2) The outline view has "Editors' copy" in the title.

Noted.  We'll try to remember to fix that in the next version.

> 3) Section 2.1: I normally try to avoid putting META in HTML documents 
> for specifying the charset (preferring the HTTP headers instead), 
> since I often transcode my documents, in my case between Latin-1, 
> ASCII and UTF-8, to be able to do different things with it and 
> depending on the software I'm processing the document with. 
> Transcoding of XML and HTML documents is quite easy, but changing the 
> META header is not.
> Most of my tools don't even know whether they are working with HTML or 
> some XML-based format.

We have substantially changed this text.  Please see
.054442951 for the latest, where we try to get people to make an intelligent
choice based on the pros and cons.  We do see a need to currently include
the declaration in the document for cases where the document is to be saved
or read without the involvement of a server.  (Note that this document is
highly focussed on giving practical advice for people currently implementing

> 4) Section 2.1: "xml:lang" and "lang": note that XHTML 1.1 
> (and most likely XHTML 2) does not have a "lang" attribute.

Noted.  We will mention that.

> 5) Section 2.2: avoid CSS property values 'left' and 'right': 
> this guideline is a nice example of why this is bad advice: 
> the equivalents of left/right are not before/after, but start/end :-)
> I think people should not try to use before/after and 
> start/end, but stick to top/bottom and left/right, unless 
> they really know what they are doing and have the necessary 
> knowledge to test their style sheets in left-to-right, 
> right-to-left and top-to-bottom texts.
>   - Left/right/top/bottom is easy to understand, always means 
> the same, no
>     matter what language your document is written in and 
> avoids mistakes
>     like the one in this draft.
>   - A style sheet (without any rules that *explicitly* select 
> on language)
>     that works for left-to-right and right-to-left languages is either
>     unlikely to be very interesting or very likely to be wrong in some
>     aspects of typography. And that the same style sheet 
> could be useful
>     for vertical text is something I simply don't believe. A vertical
>     document doesn't look like a rotated horizontal document. 
> In fact, it
>     is more likely that the left margins are the same than the "start"
>     margins. The lines may go vertical, but the paper/screen 
> didn't change
>     and neither did the reader's body.
>   - Most people will not write style sheets for documents in different
>     languages, or at most in two very similar languages, like 
> English and
>     French (but even then the style sheets for the two documents are
>     unlikely to be exactly the same). Asking them to write 
> 'start' when
>     they mean 'left' and when 'left' in in fact perfectly 
> acceptable is
>     cruel and doesn't make writing CSS very attractive.
>   - CSS also uses the terms before/after to insert text such 
> as section
>     numbers or boilerplate text into a document, but that is 
> a "logical"
>     before/after, as if you inserted an element into the 
> document tree; it
>     says little about where the inserted text will be printed, because
>     there are other properties for that. You can very well insert
>     something 'before' an element and then use 'float: right' 
> to make it
>     appear on the right side.
> I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what CSS is for.
> Because device-independence, accessibility and 
> language-independence are looked-for characteristics for some 
> W3C specifications, people think that they must be 
> characteristics of *all* W3C specifications. But if you can't 
> put the language-dependent aspects of a document in the style 
> sheet, where
> *can* you put them?
> For an example of what I mean, look at the "CSS Zen Garden"
> ( This is a site that shows the 
> power of clean HTML and CSS in the hands of professional 
> designers. The authors have thoughtfully provided Dutch, 
> French, Russian and other translations, but the style sheet 
> designers didn't know, or didn't know how to handle those 
> languages. If you try to apply the various styles to 
> translated pages, you'll quickly see that the styles don't 
> work: things are supposed to be bold or italic, but the 
> script doesn't have these concepts; the titles are images in 
> the style sheet and thus the translations disappear; the 
> layouts are clearly Western style, more specifically English: 
> the long words of Finnish already don't really fit in some of 
> the narrow columns.
> There is no Hebrew or Arabic translation, but you can try to 
> imagine: how would you do "Pret-a-porter", e.g.? And I have 
> no doubt that a good designer would be able to do an 
> recognizably "equivalent" style with vertical text, but it 
> wouldn't be done by replacing some 'left' by 'start'...

Thanks for these pointers.  We have removed the recommendation to avoid left
and right in CSS (though not in HTML), and will consider these topics in

> 6) Section 3.2: XML encoding declaration: same comment as (3) above.
> 7) Use the META element: this is a duplicate of Section 2.1.
> 8) META as early as possible: also a duplicate of Section 2.1.
> 9) Use hex escapes: In CSS there is no other way than to use 
> hex and in XML it is allowed, but in HTML you cannot use hex 
> escapes, but must use decimal (unless SGML changed recently).

Hex escapes work fine in recent browsers in X/HTML, though they were a
problem in Netscape 4.  We will add a comment to this effect.

> 10) Section 5.1: Hmm, I must be missing something: this 
> guideline is another duplicate. And in the following sections 
> there are several more duplicates...

We wanted people to find all the information relevant to a particular task
in one place, without searching around, so duplicated the information.  The
new approach, with the separate documents containing detail, removes this
repetition at the detailed level.  Any repetition will be only in the
outline document, which now points to the relevant techniques on a technique
by technique basis.

Thanks for your comments !

For the GEO TF

> Bert
> -- 
>   Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C )
>                              W3C/ERCIM
>                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
>   +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France

Received on Thursday, 6 May 2004 17:16:29 UTC