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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 04:06:04 -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: <A592E245B36A8949BDB0A302B375FB4E09E910C46D@MAILR001.mail.lan>
This may be a little different topic, but I found one example that may easier to explain.

When you switch paper direction from portrait to landscape or vice versa, you will want to swap top and left margins of the page, right? I confirmed this with Word. It is because it's natural to have wider margins in the longer side of a page. Word swaps page margins, but not margins of paragraphs. Swapping page margins and keeping paragraph margins are both correct, because it matches to the cultural background of typography.

"Switch to vertical text flow" feature would be similar. We will keep the page margin unchanged, but we want to swap all paragraph and other margins inside of the body.

I hope this example helps your understanding a little bit.

Koji Ishii

-----Original Message-----
From: www-style-request@w3.org [mailto:www-style-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Ishii Koji
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2010 4:38 PM
To: John Daggett
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.

Thank you again for your prompt reply. I feel we're making a great progress, and I'm so glad to it. I'm so happy that guys in this ML are paying so much efforts to resolve vertical text flow, which is not directly your problem. I want to show my deepest appreciation to that. I think the current draft solves most of the problems to support vertical text layout, and we're very close to the goal. I wish we could have a little more help from all of you.

You're right that cultural difference and logical consistencies are different problems. But what if two people in different cultures think different answers to be "logically correct", because "logic" also has some aspect that relies on his own culture?

Sorry for bringing up the same examples again, but "left" of text-flow can be interpreted as top and we all agreed with it. How about "left-to-right" and "right-to-left" in vertical text flow? I think we can also agree on it too, although it should be clearly stated in the spec to avoid possible future confusions by someone from different cultural background.

Why can we agree on these without any problems but not on margins? I think it's because "the logically correct answer" is different because of differences in one's cultural background. I've been in Japanese typography world for more than 20 years, and nobody in Japan even asked me if "margin-left" is against page or flow. Everyone I met in the past assumed that it's against flow, and doing so has been logically correct for Japanese. Now in this ML, everyone assumes it's against page. Isn't this a cultural difference in "what logically correct answer is"?

You must agree that what "politically correct" means varies by culture. "Logically correct" is a little more consistent than PC, but is still not perfectly consistent. I think we're seeing a very rare case here where "logically correct answer" varies by cultures.

This great discussions brought me yet another new idea. What do you think about adding a new property:


We don't have to scan and adjust whole document. Both cultures can think it's "natural" and "logically correct" because this property describes which culture to pick.

Well, I'm not going to insist on my proposal though. I would support anything best to resolve the issue. But for now, I think something like this would be appropriate, because I think it directly describes the root cause of how differently we look at typography.

BTW, I know this one is very hard to find the correct answer, and I know it's not going to be solved in a day. I actually remember I discussed on this topic with Murray and some other folks at Microsoft more than 10 years ago, and we couldn't find a good solution at that point. We couldn't dig into this in this depth as we had so many issues on the table without much time. This time, I'm so glad that people in this ML are trying so much efforts to help us, and we're getting much closer to the right answer where both parties can be happy.

I sometimes see Japanese publishers and vendors dislike localized products or global standard because its cultural adoption was not enough. This time, I can believe that Japanese would love CSS thank you to all of your efforts. I know all of you are busy and I'm causing some troubles, but I do appreciate all the efforts you're making.

Koji Ishii

-----Original Message-----
From: John Daggett [mailto:jdaggett@mozilla.com] 
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2010 3:39 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.


> 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.

I don't think this is a cultural difference, I think that vertical text layout is simply not covered by the current CSS standard.  Can this be fixed?  Sure.  

One place to start would be to do as you suggest, to swizzle around the mappings of left, top, right, bottom based on the flow of the text. This is what the existing vertical text implementation in IE does.  But as fantasai and others have described, this leads to logical inconsistencies in the style language.  Those inconsistencies are a
*CSS* problem, not a cultural one.

> 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.

You're completely right, in trying to define how CSS should support vertical text layout misunderstandings are likely to occur.  Cultural differences will dictate the set of problems to be solved.  But supporting vertical text in CSS means understanding completely the impact of proposed solutions, both on other parts of CSS, including
CSS3 modules, and on HTML.  That is a technical discussion for the most part, cultural distinctions play less of a role.


John Daggett
Received on Monday, 14 June 2010 08:06:40 UTC

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