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Re: [css-cascade-4][css3-ui] naming collision: the "default" value

From: Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:03:26 +0200
To: "Brad Kemper" <brad.kemper@gmail.com>, "Daniel Tan" <lists@novalistic.com>
Cc: "www-style list" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.xxjcn0llidj3kv@simons-mbp>
On Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:33:55 +0200, Daniel Tan <lists@novalistic.com>  

> On 4/23/2015 10:23 AM, Brad Kemper wrote:
>> 'ua-default' seems too jargony to me. I suspect there is a huge  
>> percentage of authors writing CSS that don't know what 'ua' stands for,  
>> or even what a "user agent" is.
> Unfortunately (?!) I can't claim to be one of those authors. The term  
> "ua-default" makes perfect sense to me. Maybe we could take this  
> opportunity to educate authors on the terminology used in the  
> specifications?

People who are subscribed to www-style are not representative. We all know  
what "ua" and "user agent" means, but maybe many CSS authors do not. To  
those who don't, ua-default is like xy-default. I don't think that is a  
problem, though. If they want to know what it means, they can look it up.  
If they don't care, that's also fine, they can still use it and know what  
it does without knowing what "ua" means.

Case study: "px" is opaque to many CSS authors. Not everyone knows it  
expands to "pixel". Fewer still know that expands to "picture element".  
Not everyone knows CSS "px" is a visual angle rather than a device pixel.  
But everyone uses "px" and are happy with their understanding of what it  
does. That it is jargony or that their understanding is not technically  
accurate is not a problem in practice.

We have "user agent" or "ua" as part of the Web platform in various places  
already: the User-Agent header, navigator.userAgent, X-UA-Compatible,  

Also, "ua" is the term that the developers of http://cssuseragent.org/  
chose to expose to CSS authors.

> The next best alternative would be "browser-default", but the word  
> "browser" alone takes up just as many bytes as "default". Ew.

This also has a similar semantic problem that not all CSS user agents are  
browsers. Personally I don't mind that, but I can't think of an existing  
precedent of using the word "browser" in a Web-exposed feature.

Simon Pieters
Opera Software
Received on Thursday, 23 April 2015 08:04:05 UTC

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