style and browser defaults

Hello.  You don't know me.  I'm just some sucker who got this address out
of the comment section of a style sheet on the W3 site.  I've also just 
read the "Common User Agent Problems" article.

I wanted to voice my frustration with a common problem in stylesheets (and
site design in general) that shows up in some of the stylesheets on the W3
site (the "Recommendation" one, for example).

I spend a lot of time reading generated documents that are very plain,
like HOWTOs, FAQs, and software documentation.  No stylesheets, and just a
plain <BODY> tag.  To save my eyes, I'm using a nice "theme" in the KDE
window environment.  This theme changes some of the default colors of the
Konqueror web browser.  Most notably, my link color is a pale yellow (this
shows up great on the default dark-grey background).

The problem arises when a site designer fails to realize this fact.  It is
a common miscoception that all user agents have the same default colors as
the original Mozilla (grey or white background, blue/purple/red links,
black text).  This is becoming less and less true as more platforms pop
up, and ideas like "themes" and "skins" become popular.  Even before this, 
users have been able to set their "default colors" in most browsers.

In the case of W3 "Recommendations", all link text becomes completely
unreadable to me (my yellow link color on your white background color).  
If I have read the specifications correctly, this is the correct behaviour 
(allow unspecified attributes to "cascade" back to the user agent 
settings).  I don't believe there are any specifications that say what 
these default settings must be, so a "themed" set of colors is fully 

The solution is, of course, to be explicit about colors that may interact
(simply: "If you override one color, you should override them all").  In
this case, the stylesheet should specify the A:link set of pseudo-classes
since link text will be on top of the specified background.  Failing to do
so produces unpredicable results in the user agent.

First, I'd like to see the W3 stylesheets "fixed" so I can again read W3 
specifications in Konqueror.  Second, I think it would be good to include 
mention of the issues I am raising in this email in a future edition of 
relevant recommendations (HTML, XHTML, and CSS all come to mind).

Thank you for your time.

   "I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z" -- Troy McClure

Received on Thursday, 8 February 2001 18:23:47 UTC