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Re: [CSS21] Issue 192 - floats and shortened line boxes

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 01:06:37 +0100
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-Id: <201103040106.38255.bert@w3.org>
(Issue 192 is tracked at http://wiki.csswg.org/spec/css2.1#issue-192)

On Wednesday) 01 September 2010 21:19:56 Anton Prowse wrote:
>  From the f2f minutes[1]:
> > <glazou>
> > http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Oct/0027.html
> > 
> >   dbaron: Anton's proposal for issue 1 looks fine.
> >   dbaron: I don't think we want to make the second change.
> >   dsinger: I think the "further" lacks a referent.
> >   <fantasai> dbaron proposes s/further content/content after the
> >   float/ <fantasai> and s/it/that content/
> >   TabAtkins: And the third issue is invalid - Bert gave an example
> >   where
> >   
> >              the content may have to be reflowed onto multiple
> >              lines.
> >   
> >   RESOLVED: Accept change for first issue, accept dbarons' change
> >   for
> >   
> >             the second issue, third issue is invalid.
> I don't believe the third issue to be invalid, and I went into rather
> a lot of detail in a later post[2] in the cited thread, in addition
> to responding[3,4] to the purported counter-example that Bert
> raised[5]. If Bert has a counter-example that he has not posted to
> the list, please could he do so.

The spec says:

    Any content in the current line before a floated box is reflowed
    in the first available line on the other side of the float.

That is indeed only true if the box floats to the left (or to the right 
in rtl text), otherwise the content stays visually "on this side" of the 
float. The next sentence in the spec ("In other words...") says it more 
clearly. This is text from 1998 and it is also in a section that says it 
is merely an introduction, not the exact rules. We wouldn't write like 
that anymore, but given that the exact rules are there as well, I don't 
think it hurts.

I said previously that "first available" referred to the fact that the 
text before the float might have to be broken over multiple lines. That 
was a mistake, as you pointed out. The first available line ("line box" 
might be better) is always just one line.

> I also disagree with dbaron's change for issue 2, since the sentence
> in the spec is talking about moving line boxes (ie creating a gap
> between line boxes) not about flowing content (which is adequately
> handled by the preceding sentence in the spec), as David himself
> noted in [6].

I think that is the question here: do we move line boxes or content?

What we want is that the *content* moves, viz., to the next line box 
that is wide enough to hold it (or the first line box that isn't 
shortened, whichever comes first). The shortened line boxes remain where 
they are. They just happen to stay empty.

David's rewrite removes the treacherous word "it" from the old text and 
makes the referent explicit:

    If a shortened line box is too small to contain any content after
    the float, then *that content* [my emphasis. BB] is shifted downward
    until either it fits or there are no more floats present.

There are no doubt still better ways to express it, but this does the 

> In any case, the suggested phrase "content after the
> float" is ambiguous: it wants to refer to content after the float's
> placeholder, but can easily be misinterpreted as content prior to
> the placeholder which has moved to the other side of the float.

True, but if you actually try to work from that interpretation, you'll 
soon run into contradictions: A shortened line box next to a right-
floating image can never contain anything "after" in the sense of "to 
the right of" that image. So "after" has to refer to the logical, not 
the visual order.

> Also, as I've pointed out before, 9.4.2 (Inline Formatting Context)
> incorrectly says "Line boxes are stacked with no vertical separation"
> so that needs editing too.

No, that remains true, even in the presence of floats. It may look as if 
there is space between the lines, but actually the space is made up of 
empty line boxes. (The space is always an integral number times the 

> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2010Sep/0001.html
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2010Aug/0181.html
> [3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Oct/0055.html
> [4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Oct/0057.html
> [5] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Oct/0050.html
> [6] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2010Aug/0074.html

  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Friday, 4 March 2011 00:07:10 UTC

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