W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > September 2009

Proposal: getStyleAs(property, primitiveValue)

From: Garrett Smith <dhtmlkitchen@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 09:27:42 -0700
Message-ID: <c9e12660909220927v34dd3f9cu9a9b19508151b760@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-style <www-style@w3.org>
Travis Leithead recently brought up the issue of reading styles again
and it certainly is a pain point. There really is no good API for
reading a style value.

Scripts frequently have to deal with this task and use a combination
of the "standard" method and the "IE/currentStyle" approach to (try
to) get a style value consistent across browsers and often make use of
IE's |runtimeStyle| property to do conversion of whatever currentStyle
returns to px.

A solution that is based on two different APIs does not work very
well. The standard document.defaultView.getComputedStyle and IE
currentStyle both have problems of their own.

* document.defaultView.getComputedStyle
  * Too generic. The "absolute value" description is not nailed down.
  * Not flexible enough: A program that wants the unit in px or em or
rgb or hex, etc, does not have that option.
  * Too verbose. The defaultView is unrelated to the Element (the DOM
spec says: "a computed style is related to an Element node").
Verbosity is not such a problem with operations that don't occur
frequently throughout the code. Reading styles is a common task.

* currentStyle.
 * Not flexible enough. A program gets the value set in the
stylesheet. If the stylesheet has EM or auto or %, then that value
  is returned.
 * simple and directly on the element.

New Proposal:
var height = x.getStyleAs("height", "px");
height = parseInt(height, 10);

For color:-
var color = x.getStyleAs("color", "rgba");
if(!color) {
  // failed.
  color = x.getStyleAs("color", "rgb");

This addresses the problem of reading a style value. The
primitiveValue is defined in the relevant CSS specification for the

A corresponding method to set a value would not seem to be necessary,
as any value could be set with:

x.style.color = "papayawhip";

Received on Tuesday, 22 September 2009 16:28:23 UTC

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