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

From: Daniel Tan <lists@novalistic.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:27:32 +0800
Message-ID: <5538D724.4090800@novalistic.com>
To: Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>
CC: www-style list <www-style@w3.org>
On 4/23/2015 4:03 PM, Simon Pieters wrote:
> On Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:33:55 +0200, Daniel Tan <lists@novalistic.com>
> wrote:
>> 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.

That's an interesting point. I had incorrectly assumed that most authors 
know that "px" means "pixel", which, oversimplified, means a dot on the 
screen - but it's more likely that they simply associate "px" directly 
with some sort of on-screen measurement and just go with it. WYSIWYG, 
and so on.

> 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, robots.txt.
> 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.

Absolutely. Many authors don't realize that there are other kinds of CSS 
user agents besides browsers. I know it slipped my mind at the time I 
wrote my previous message.

All said, +1 too for ua-default or default-value.

Daniel Tan
Received on Thursday, 23 April 2015 11:27:58 UTC

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