Re: Style Sheets for HTML

Chris Lilley, Computer Graphics Unit (
Tue, 31 May 1994 12:41:37 GMT

Gavin "*Not* speaking for EBT" Nicol said (over on www-talk):

> I would like to see HTML+ as the common thread, where is all else
> fails, every server, and every client should understand it, but I
> would also like it to be possible to have clients and servers who are
> aware of more than one DTD, and more than one stylesheet.

Yeah. Yeah Yeah.

and also said:

> How
> would it know when a new chapter in a book began? H? elements are
> used primarily for font effects in HTML...

Oh true. HTML is supposed to give you structure, yet it gives far less than many
wordprocessors. What does an H1 mean? The top heading of one file, in practice,
usually only one per file. Yet if I have several files that are chapters of a
document, I typically use h1 for the document title and have a TOC list with
links to the chapters. Each chapter then uses H1 for the chapter title, and so
on. If you do not do this, you rapidly run out of heading levels. The problem is
that hierarchies of headings need to go UP; not just down through sub heads, sub
sub heads etc in a document, but up through chapters, books, collections, etc
between documents.

HTML+ addrsses some of these concerns, and makes for a richer language. For
example, I can now explicitly tag an abtract, rather than just nesting
blockquote and italic ;-). There is also some support for making up your own
tags (see Dave Raggets paper at WWW94 for this).

But having got a rich enough set for simple use (many of the people much of the
time), perhaps we should stop there. Attempting to make a DTD that is all things
to all people would be futile - have you seen a publishers DTD, for example?

On the other hand if you could put up arbitrary SGML, with a link to the DTD and
the style sheet in the header, and if a browser (using the distributed flock of
cooperating services model) hauls in an SGML parser to deal with it, that would
be good.

HTML+ then would become a lingua franca, efficient because you don't need to
send over the DTD, while richer DTDs could be used for documents where you do
need the structure to be kept intact.

Chris Lilley
| Technical Author, ITTI Computer Graphics and Visualisation Training Project |
| Computer Graphics Unit,        |  Internet:            |
| Manchester Computing Centre,   |     Janet:            |
| Oxford Road,                   |     Voice: +44 61 275 6045                 |
| Manchester, UK.  M13 9PL       |       Fax: +44 61 275 6040                 |
| X400:  /I=c/S=lilley/O=manchester-computing-centre/PRMD=UK.AC/ADMD= /C=GB/  |
|  <A HREF="">my page</A>   |