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RE: [css3-text-layout] New editor's draft - margin-before/after/start/end etc.

From: Ishii Koji <kojiishi@gluesoft.co.jp>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 01:18:29 -0400
To: John Daggett <jdaggett@mozilla.com>
CC: "MURATA Makoto (FAMILY Given)" <eb2m-mrt@asahi-net.or.jp>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
Message-ID: <A592E245B36A8949BDB0A302B375FB4E09E910C466@MAILR001.mail.lan>
Thank you for your reply, John.

You're right that I'm mixing the two, but I don't think I'm confusing. Left is left as you said, but "against what" depends on the context because "left" is a relative terminology and cannot be defined without "to what". An English sentence "I'm sitting at left" defines where you're sitting relative to something. As fantasai said, "text-align:left" can be defined as "the side of the block that left-to-right text would start on", and I can agree with it because we share against what the "left" is defined in this context as a common sense in both cultures.

Even "physical" could be ambiguous. It probably means "against the page orientation", not against the display orientation in rotatable devices like iPad, not against the earth gravity, but I can think so because there's an unspoken agreement, and that doesn't differ by the culture in this context.

I'm mixing the two because vertical text flow system has a problem with current CSS, and I think it is caused by the cultural difference which is not defined well yet in CSS. As you said, I don't care the cultural difference if it doesn't cause us a real problem. It exists, and it is causing a real problem to all Asians. That is where a standard body can help, right?

"Nodding means no" culture wouldn't be written in text, or even wouldn't be noticed if it doesn't cause any real problems. It caused a communication problem, people tried to understand why the problem aroused, found the cultural difference that neither can change nor even understand, and then finally both parties can work together to find how to live with the difference. I think we're still at the stage where we're trying to understand there's a cultural difference here, so I can understand that you think that does not exist.

I know it might look very strange to you. I know you might see we are wrong. I know you might think why don't we change and follow the way you think. That is exactly the nature of a cultural difference. US Dollar or Euro may be superior than Japanese Yen, but one can't change it in a day. This is easy to understand because everyone knows there're multiple currencies in the world, and Japanese Yen is yet another one. What we're discussing here is probably the first difference, which is very hard to understand and accept. If the world has only one currency, and if you found a new one, it's probably very hard to understand as in the "nodding means no" culture. I've been in the typography localization business for more than 20 years, so I can understand this might be very difficult to understand for you.

If the cultural problem does not exist, there shouldn't be a real problem either, but a real problem does exist.

The point is, does the problem come from a cultural difference, or from my ignorance or insufficient knowledge to the CSS?

This is why I'm asking if there were any good way to resolve the issue, because you guys in this ML must have the best knowledge. If you can solve it, it was my bad, I should have learned more. If you can't, it's very likely that we have faced to a new cultural difference. To distinguish the two, I must explain what the problem is, and what the background culture is behind it. That's where I stand right now, so I'm writing about the two.

Did I make myself clear enough why I'm mixing the two, and am not confusing?

-----Original Message-----
From: John Daggett [mailto:jdaggett@mozilla.com] 
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2010 1:07 PM
To: Ishii Koji
Cc: MURATA Makoto (FAMILY Given); www-style@w3.org; fantasai
Subject: Re: [css3-text-layout] New editor's draft - margin-before/after/start/end etc.

Koji Ishii wrote:

> I'm not trying to convince you to change your mind. I just want to 
> clearly understand the current situation. I also wish you to 
> understand what issues we have right now, how Asian cultures differ 
> from yours, and hopefully wish you to come up with a good solution 
> everyone can live together.
> You know, I heard there's a culture in the world where nodding means 
> "no" rather than "yes". We can't force them to change their culture.
> They can't change ours. There's no single answer which is right. Both 
> parties should just agree upon there's a cultural difference here, and 
> then we can communicate to each other, right?

I think you're confusing cultural differences in text display with a more subtle requirement to support *both* vertical and horizontal writing modes without using separate styles for horizontal and vertial text display. The discussion here has centered around that requirement.

Without that requirement, the difference between physical and logical dimensions is less meaningful I think. Left is left, in Norway, Lebanon or Japan, logical dimensions don't provide any inherent advantage to someone who is laying out elements on a page in a single preferred direction or in a mixture of vertical and horizontal elements.

Beyond the discussion of physical vs. logical dimensions, CSS has historically been used to style HTML content, so fully supporting vertical text layout means thinking through the impact on all of HTML, not just a simple subset of it.

Looking over XSL 1.1, I'm wondering why that wouldn't be a better basis for an EPUB standard.  It already has the physical/logical model distinction and defines various writing-mode features.  It's also not burdened with being the default styling language for all of HTML.
Given that the EPUB standard is essentially picking a subset of pieces from other standards, it can define a subset of elements and style properties that fully support flipping between vertical and horizontal text modes while minimizing the impact of these features on EPUB implementations.


John Daggett
Received on Monday, 14 June 2010 05:19:13 UTC

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