Re: HTML3 <OL inherit> gone for good?

lilley (
Mon, 13 Mar 1995 14:48:46 +0500

Brian Behlendorf write:

> On Mon, 13 Mar 1995, lilley wrote:

> > Ok, Brian, so you are agreeing with Lou that stylesheets should, in
> > time, be implemented but that they should not be the only way to provide
> > rendering hints?

> I was implying that a company whose vision of furthering HTML development
> as nothing more than adding new tags and attributes left and right should
> reconsider.

"Nothing more than" - I agree with you. Style sheets as well, yes, sure.

It is when people seem to suggest dropping tags and attributes and doing
style sheets instead, as a mutually exclusive option, that I start to worry.

Mainly I worry about the time for style sheet technology to be pervasive,
and whether we have that time before alternative, commercial approaches
become pervasive and the whole standardisation discussion becomes moot.

> If they're serious about conducting development as an
> long term experiment and not as a way to make the "new features for
> version x.x" list longer, then they should consider all solutions.

All solutions includes both style sheets and existing tags?

> > Brian wrote:

> > > No, the standards process must *not* be driven by market forces or the
> > > momentum of first-to-market, and it should not be John Q. Public who
> > > decides issues of fundamental web architectures.

> > So, you are saying that document authors should not be consulted and no
> > notice should be taken of what people want from the Web; instead, what is good
> > for them should be given as a fait acompli and they can take it or leave it?

> No, you're putting words into my mouth.

That was not my intention; I was quite careful with my quoting. I was trying to
clarify that you meant what I thought you meant. I am pleased to hear that you
did not, in fact, mean that.

> Of course the needs of authors
> should be paramount in the specification, and along with that the
> knowlege gained from having tried many different routes and finding the
> best solution. What I'm worried about are entropic market forces, like
> "well, everyone is using IMG align=left, so we better put it in the
> spec".

Sure. Although saying, "10 million people are using this, so maybe there is
a need for it" seems pretty sensible. Saying, "10 million people do it this way,
but that leads to a problem, so doing it this slightly different way that works
now" also seems quite reasonable. [For example, the <center> tag]

Saying, "10 million people do it this way, and they must stop, now, while we
explore and develop a new technology and maybe have it ready in a year or so"
seems naive and unworkable to me. I expect it does to you, too.

It is the last scenario that *I* worry about, just as you worry about entropic
market forces.

> There is not necessarily a correlation between widespread use of
> a thing, and the intelligence of a thing.

I heve no disagreement with that statement.

> If popularity were all that mattered,
> we would be declaring MS Word files the default web document standard ;)

Or that. But your arguments seem to deal with issueas as if they were exclusive.
Popularity is clearly not *all* that matters. That does not mean it does
not matter *at all*, either.

But (and I forget the quote attribution, it was an American woman priest
talking to the Pope, I think) "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube"

If stylesheets are mandatory for all HTML 3 browsers, and this causes a
substantial lag in time-to-market of a high quality and stable implementation
on each major platform, we may very well find that HTML 3.0 is treated with
polite disinterest because there may be, by that time, well established
alternative methods of achieving the same thing. That would make me very sad.

> > This seems a pretty radical departure from the HTML 2.0 philosophy, which
> > rounded up all the things that were being both implemented and used by
> > the HTML authoring community and produced a DTD that represented current
> > practice.
> Well, those drafting HTML 2.0 didn't have much choice - in 1993 (2?) marca
> added <IMG> and the rest was history. Of course now we're paying because
> <IMG> should have been a container, as now <FIG> is in HTML 3.0 - which
> is a very good example of something we should aim to *not* have happen
> again.

I accept that.

> > Brian, I hear you saying that stylesheets are great and have a lot of
> > potential. I agree. I suspect Lou does too.
> >
> > But I don't see the problem with the existing stylistic hints that HTML 3.0
> > provides (?used to provide?).
> >
> > For example, people at our site have been putting in centered headings with
> > the Netscape specific <center> tag. I have been explaining to them, with
> > some success, that if they do it the HTML 3.0 way like this:
> >
> > <h1 align="center">

> The current HTML 3.0 draft still allows this, and I'd argue to keep this


If style sheets are mandatory, there is absolutely no reason to keep it.

If style sheets are recommended but not compulsory, and if a stylesheet
overrides hints in the HTML, then sure, it would be better to keep this.

> This is all about how future development should move

OK, but perhaps we differ with our definitions of "future"

I take "future" to mean from right here and now, not from August 94. Then,
existing browsers did not implement centred text, or loweralpha list items.
Now, they do. We have to take some account of that, and provide a reasonably
easy migration path to a better way.

> - should we continue to
> add align= attributes to every body tag one by one, and then color, and
> then size, and then font style.... or should we generalize and
> *ironically enough save ourselves some effort* and go for style sheets?

Which let you specify colour, and font size and stuff.

Incidentally, if some document comes along with pink on lime green headers
in the style sheet, and you happen to have poor eyesight, is there any way
to make your needs as a viewer over-ride the style sheet so the text is at
least legible? Or has than not been settled yet? I recall talk about cascading
style sheets but I don't recall that discussion reaching any consensus.

Chris Lilley
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