Proposed Change to CSS3 Module: Fonts, <absolute-size> Subsection

Just today in private email, Eric Meyer wrote this reiteration of words
I've seen many times in various web design forums:

"Use [<absolute-size>], and end up with unpredictable results in terms
of the final rendering".

The same places I've seen the complaint of <absolute-size>
unpredictability I've at least as often seen the complaint that the
delta between the smaller sizes is too large, making too much of a jump
between sizes, particularly the smaller ones. is one alternate
proposal for Gecko to deal with this issue that provides additional
complaint detail.

Earlier in the same email from Meyer, he reiterated something else I've
seen him write elsewhere:

"Font sizing on the web is one of the few guaranteed no-win situations
in web design."

In the interest of reducing these font styling complaints and improving
the likelihood of a "win" situation, I've drafted a rewrite of portions
of the <absolute-size> section of "CSS3 module: fonts", taken from the
working draft at and
currently incarnated in expanded discussion form at with proposed
actual language link therein to .

It seems that the current section in 2.1 and its predecessors was
derived largely from Todd Fahrner's "Toward a standard font size
interval system" at . To
this day that page remains labeled as incomplete. I strained to find the
logic in the small size interval recommendations there, and the only one
I could come up with was a ratification of the old <font> size intervals
originally used by Netscape 4's predecessors. It claims to propose
harmonization, but I could find nothing harmonizing about a
recommendation to progressively shrink the steps from the smallest sizes
until reaching medium, and then progressively increase them as sizes
increased further.

My proposed changes essentially are three:

1-progressively, as much as possible within the limits of font size
availability to browser rendering engines, increase the delta between
sizes all the way from smallest to largest;
2-compress the deltas at the smaller sizes;
3-at the smaller default sizes replace wide deltas between small &
medium and smaller deltas between x-small and small and 1px or 0 deltas
between xx-small and x-small with more even deltas between each of those

I created a Mozilla bug that would implement
this proposal in Gecko. Prior to submitting patches to that bug I
compiled Mozilla myself using them and tested the impact. The bug has
several screenshots of the test results, plus discussion from various
interested parties.

I'm not a programmer. I was able to make the patch because making the
proposed changes involves changing only data tables within the source
code that implement in Gecko the 2.1 version of this spec section.

During my last look yesterday at the current behaviors of the major
browsers, I observed that Opera 8.5 and Konqueror 3.4.0 already deviate
from the 2.1 spec in a manner somewhat similar to the changes I've
proposed. My css3-34discuss.html page includes links to live pages that
show each of the <absolute-size> sizes specified both as px, pt, and
keywords for each of the major browser engines for the indicated default
sizes. Evaluation of those links provide most of the basis for the
detailed browser data in that page.

Noteworthy is that IE6 fails to floor any size at the screen media
intelligibility minimum of 9px, and can render xx-small as small as 6px,
and x-small as small as 8px.

A very brief capsule summary of the proposal is Note 3 on .
"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."
                                                Philippians 4:13 NIV

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Felix Miata  ***

Received on Thursday, 10 November 2005 05:58:07 UTC