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[CSS21] WD 9.2.1, 9.2.2: block-level, inline-level

From: Peter Moulder <peter.moulder@monash.edu>
Date: Sun, 09 Jan 2011 12:09:51 +0000
To: www-style@w3.org
Message-id: <20110109120951.GA23839@bowman.infotech.monash.edu.au>
Lots of CSS visual formatting depends on whether something is
inline-level or block-level.  CSS simply cannot be implemented for
visual media without knowing whether or not a given box or element
is block-level, and whether it is inline-level.

Whereas the existing text has the following problems:

  - The first sentence of 9.2.1 reads like a definition (it uses <dfn>
    and is phrased as a definition: "are those ... that ..."), yet it is
    both circular (we don't know how it's visually formatted without
    knowing whether it's block-level), unclear ("visually formatted as
    blocks" might reasonably be seen as applying to inline blocks) and
    arguably false (inline-level elements are arguably formatted visually
    as blocks when their box is enclosed in a block-level box).

  - The second sentence of 9.2.1, which comes closest to giving a true
    definition, still has the following problems:

      + It doesn't say whether any other elements are ever block-level.
        For example, it doesn't say whether inline-table or inline-block
	are ever block-level elements.  I believe there's nothing that
	says clearly that no inline-level element is a block-level

	(This problem is of course made worse by the omission of
	'table-caption' from the list, which makes it quite clear that
	there are other elements that are block-level.)

      + It doesn't say whether all display:block etc. elements are
        block-level or only some of them.

This problem is easy to address: e.g. make the first sentence of 9.2.1 be:

  | Block-level elements in CSS 2.1 are those elements whose computed
  | value of the 'display' property either is one of 'block', 'list-item',
  | 'table' or 'table-caption', or is 'run-in' and the element generates a
  | block-level box according to section 9.2.3.

(This can be followed with the existing first sentence but changed to a
description rather than definition:

  | Block-level elements are formatted visually as blocks (e.g.,
  | paragraphs).


I believe that "in CSS 2.1" is already enough to cover future levels of
CSS; if it's important then we could add an explicit statement that "future
levels of CSS may ...".

Much the same comments apply to the first two sentences of 9.2.2 wrt
inline-level elements (and hence boxes).

Received on Sunday, 9 January 2011 12:10:27 UTC

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