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Re: [CSS3] Flexible Flow Module, proposal.

From: Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 17:28:29 +0100
Message-ID: <49E4B9AD.4090603@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
To: Andrew Fedoniouk <news@terrainformatica.com>
CC: Zack Weinberg <zweinberg@mozilla.com>, www-style <www-style@w3.org>

Andrew Fedoniouk wrote:

> I do not see how use of '*' makes syntax worse. What exactly is causing 
> problems in your opinion?

May I address this, as someone otherwise uninvolved
in this debate ?

"*" does not mean (or suggest) "flexible unit", "flex",
"infinite glue", or any similar concept.  It suggests
a few things : multiplication, emphasis, wild-card,
and so on.  Thus when one reads for the first time
"1*" in CSS, one has no idea what it means, other than
thinking that it is an error for "one times <something>",
where the <something> has been accidentally omitted.

"fl" on the other hand, whilst possibly suggesting "florin",
also suggests "flexible", Knuth's "fil" and so on,
and is thus very definitely suggestive of the concept
you are trying to get across.  On encountering "1fl"
in CSS, one is unlikely to think it means "one florin",
and is far more likely to think of "one flexible unit"
or "one fil".

> About 'fl'. lowercase 'L' is not desirable in length units as it is 
> close to the '1' in monospaced fonts. And 'f' belongs to hex digits -
> may cause some inconsistencies in future.

These are valid concerns, but do not seem to have caused
any problems in the TeX world, where "fil" is ubiquitous.

> In my opinion letters as units are ok only for SI units that are already 
> well recognized internationally.
> Conceptual things are better to be presented by iconic symbols like '*'.

I strongly disagree.  Perhaps you are lucky, and icons are
inherently meaningful to you; for myself, I even find
aircraft safety leaflets virtually useless, because
they consist solely of pictures rather than words. I
can cope with "%" (and the corresponding symbol for
"per mille") because I have been exposed to it/them
  since childhood; "*" has no such associations for me,
and (I suspect) for millions of other potential users
of CSS.

Received on Tuesday, 14 April 2009 16:29:17 UTC

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