Re: Hey Microsoft! cool it with CSS points ok?

Steve Knoblock wrote, at 12:32 -0500 on 24.11.97:
> >The danger of specifying point units in CSS is compounded by their use
> >special fonts, whose legibility characteristics at any nominal point size
> >are better than average, like "big looking" Verdana (and most of the
> One of the points in favor of Verdana.

Yes, it's a fine font in isolation, but not a very good citizen given (a)
its atypical tolerance for small size specification and (b) it's
non-universal presence on Web clients. I suppose they're working on the
latter part....

> All the new MS fonts are "big
> looking." It does create a problem for designers when they may not have a
> way of relating the choice of font to the font-size. Or to relating the
> length of lines to the font size (perhaps when em support is more
> this will go away).

This was the justification for my and David Perrell's suggestion a while
back for a means to bind type sizes and line-heights to faces, so that if
the first binding was not possible, the second complete triad would apply,
and so on....

> >More to the point, these sizing issues would go away if CSS authors (and
> >their corporate sponsors) would make it a policy not to use point or
> >units for type in Web pages. These units render inconsistently, so any
> Yes, that would be ideal. But I have resorted to point-sizes for one of my
> help files because there is no cross-browser support for percent or em
> values. I want to use percent or em but find it difficult given the buggy
> IE3.x and so forth.

Right. This is to say that we're letting the rather horrid limitations of
the first-generation implementations set the standard. Can't use ems? Then
flout the CSS1 recommendation against using point measures for screen
work.... This is really dangerous. CSS isn't seriously compelling in its
"highest common factor" implementation as an alternative to GIF-and-table
techniques. That's why we need to hold out for real implementations, and
contrive to withhold "dangerous" but correct CSS from substandard
implementations, a la: .

Otherwise I think we're wasting our time.

> >illusion of greater control is, well, illusory, and finally unfriendly.
> >Speaking of unfriendly, have you all noticed that IE4 shipped without the
> >font size adjustment thingie on the toolbar? There's almost enough here
> >a conspiracy theory, or maybe a Ralph Nader crusade.... :^)
> Yes, again, I noticed the omission and am critical of it. However, after
> attempting several designs using absolute positioning, I have concluded
> they omitted because allowing user to change font-size can distort or make
> such designs unreadable.

Uh, yes. What would you expect with a name like "absolute positioning"?
<span class="controversial">In my opinion, this part of CSS2 would be
(largely) redundant with a proper CSS1 implementation, especially in
conjunction with the W3C's passed-over "Frame-based layout with CSS" note.
NS and MS submitted the CSS-P draft to W3C, I think, out of a lack of
vision about what a real CSS1 implementation would represent, or a lack of
faith (so far justified) in their ability to implement it quickly.</span>

> If you create areas using percent, they may
> display in ways that are not controllable. If you tie the sizing to em,
> then you risk the changes introduced by font-resizing.

If the point is not to permit aesthetically-constrained adaptation to the
needs or preferences of users in heterogeneous rendering environments, then
CSS is dead, redundant with the gruesome GIF-and-table tricks I apply
daily, with all the glee of a heroin addict getting another desperate fix.
These tricks work today in 98% of browsers in use. All you need is a
back-end database to manage your data, and markup is irrelevant....

Todd Fahrner

Received on Monday, 24 November 1997 13:49:28 UTC