Re: HTML3 <OL inherit> gone for good?

lilley (
Fri, 10 Mar 1995 16:55:57 +0500

Steinar Bang wrote:

> I wrote:

> > Hmm, does that mean that all HTML 3.0 browsers have to implement
> > style sheets?

> I due course all Web browsers will have to implement style
> sheets. There's simply no way around it.

In due course, that may well happen. Now, style sheets are
a discussion idea with no firm base of cross platform implementation.

Saying that you can only display HTML 3.0 if you support style sheets ups the
ante for browser writers and will slow up the acceptance of HTML 3.0 IMHO.

I quote from <> :

HTML 3.0 is designed (but doesn't require) to be used together with style
sheets which give rich control over document rendering, and
can take into account the user's preferences, the window size a
nd other resource limitations

> In due course all web browsers will have to implement a way a scheme
> that will let users define new file formats. Simply no way around it.

Not sure what you mean, there, so I will let that one pass.

> HTML 3.0 is not the final solution.

I said it was?

> And adding arbitrary tags to HTML 2.0 or 3.0 is definitely *not* the
> final solution.

I am not talking about adding any tags, let alone arbitrary ones. I am
talking about an attribute to an existing tag, which has been removed from
the latest version of the specification, and questioning whether it should
have been removed.

I cited some examples where this removalwould make translation from other
formats harder. I said that existing browsers have already implemented
this attribute, so difficulty of implementation could not be cited as
reason for removal.

I also cited an example where this would make the authoring job harder (the
actual writing). I speak as a professional technical author. There is a demand
from the user community for these list item attributes - dsr again:

The Web has acted as a huge exercise in user testing, and we have been
able to glean lots of information from the ways people abuse HTML in
trying to get a particular effect; as well as from explicit demand for
new features. HTML 3.0, as a result, includes support for customised lists;

I would appreciate your comments on how such automatic translation should be
handled in this instance without using stylesheets.

I can see one way - <ul> with each bullet using <li src="a.gif"> and so on.
We have been down that road already with inline maths. I do not want that to
be the only solution.

Until recently, it was easy. <li type="loweralpha">. Simple to comprehend,
provably easy to support, conversion from WP formats a doddle, fulfills a real

[speaking of requiring *all* HTML 3 browsers to support style sheets]
> > I thought that was considered a bad idea.

> Why on earth would it be?

Stylesheet information is an optional, presentational gloss. The implementation
of stylesheets lags behind implementation of HTML 3.0.

Requiring stylesheets, to preserve the *content* of the information is
patently a bad idea. The content is supposed to be in the SGML.

If a document refers to "item five in the following list" or "element g
in the preceeding list" then the markup must be able to preserve this meaning,
this content, in the translated HTML file. Would you argue against that?

Yes, you can do that by subclassing a generic list and linking to a style
sheet. I have no problem with that. (Hell, you could just have one entity
"container" in the DTD and subclass that, putting all the information in
the style sheets!)

But it should not be the only way. I strongly feel that HTML 3.0 should
*allow* but not *require* stylesheets. Do not get me wrong. I think style
sheets are a good way forward. But I believe in evolution not revolution.

Mandatory stylesheets would delay the introduction of HTML 3.0 and make
it more likely that the web would fragment into incompatible, proprietarty
sub webs - the web with the netscape extensions, the web with the microsoft
extensions, and so on. We do not have infinite time to debate this. If fully
fledged HTML 3 browsers, with mandatory stylesheets if you insist, are made
available on all common platform in, say, two years time, it will all be wasted
effort. History is full of such mistakes (I refer you to the publication of
the GKS standard for an example). I am anxious not to repeat them.

Chris Lilley
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