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Re: [XHTML2] renaming :link to :unvisited

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 14:34:24 +0200
To: www-style@w3.org
Cc: David Latapie <david@empyree.org>, Eric Meyer <eric@meyerweb.com>
Message-Id: <200609281434.24790.bert@w3.org>

On Thursday 28 September 2006 12:38, David Latapie wrote:
> Good day,
> Regarding link pseudo-classes (<http://www.w3.org/TR/2005/WD-css3-
> selectors-20051215/#link>)
> +-=-=-=
> | <http://meyerweb.com/eric/css/link-specificity.html>
> | This is why the recommended order in CSS1 goes like this:
> |    a:link
> |    a:visited
> |    a:hover
> |    a:active
> |
> |The first two can be in either order, actually, because a link can't
> be both visited and unvisited at the same time. |(:link means
> "unvisited"; and no, I don't know why they didn't call it that.)
> +-=-=-=
> (:link means "unvisited"; and no, I don't know why they didn't call
> it that.)

I do know :-) It's named after the LINK attribute of BODY in HTML. I 
guess it was somebody at Netscape who invented that. (But we, the CSS 
WG at the time, nevertheless decided that VLINK was too obscure a name 
and used ':visited' instead.)

> I think Eric Meyer has a point here. Changing it would make it easier
> to understand.
> What do you think of it?

Changing is impossible. There is 10 years' worth of documents on the Web 
that use ':link' plus all the books that describe CSS.

Adding an alternative name is possible, but not very elegant. And it 
would anyway take several years before it worked in a significant 
number of browsers.

I would say: yes, it would have been nice if the names had been more 
consistent, but, back then, CSS was trying to get accepted at all and 
thus tried to be as consistent with HTML as possible. And now the cost 
of a change would be major, while just living with the name is a minor 

(At the time, I didn't expect CSS to reach its 10th birthday. It was 
just meant to provide a bit of style for HTML and simple SGML, just 
enough to protect HTML from having to change for 5 years or so. After 
those 5 years, people would be used to the concept of style sheets and 
would not ask for presentational attributes anymore. We could then work 
on a successor to CSS. But CSS turned out to be better than 

  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Thursday, 28 September 2006 12:34:55 UTC

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