RE: Initial Draft --Cascaded Speech Style Sheets

Chris Wilson (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 09:53:38 -0800

>Gavin Nicol <> writes:
>>This is the crux of the matter. Last year, at the WWW 4 stylesheet
>>BOF, when I said that tag explosion might be the *best* thing to
>>happen, a lot of people kind of sniggered (like hey, who's this
>>idiot), but in actual fact, using CLASS, or any other mechanism just
>>accomplishes the same thing in a less elegant, and less flexible

I understood what you meant by tag explosion being a good thing at the
time; if I felt that all uses of stylesheet would be of the type "This
chunk of text is a section title; I want all section titles to be
bolded," then I might even agree with you. The two problems with this
approach (and reasons why I might have sniggered ;^) are:
1. I don't feel that this is the only major application of stylistic
properties to text; I think many authors are the hack 'n' slash kind,
who will think "I want this word to be blue," without considering what
it is about that text that makes them want it blue. Also, sometimes it
*IS* purely presentational - in writing poetry, for example, the author
often wants a particular format of presentation - the goal is to express
or convey a feeling, not to describe the content model of each piece of
text on the screen. Especially, it would seem, in creating
advertisements (inarguably a major faction of Web publishing), designers
often want a particular font face, size, color or whatever, applied to a
section of text for purely presentational (vs. content-based) reasons.
2. An explosion of tags to allow for tagged content (e.g. a particular
tag solely for tagging names of people, like <PERSON> from an old HTML
3.0 draft) would be great, if everyone could agree on the list of tags,
and keep their UAs relatively up-to-date. The abstraction through CLASS
allows unique tagging without having to extend the DTD. For example,
let's say I'm authoring a personnel list for my department. Even
assuming all UAs support the <PERSON> tag, I'm going to want to tag
people by their job titles, so that I can differentiate the entries for
program managers from software design engineers, etc. Doing this by tag
explosion would be fine, *IF* I could easily extend the DTD the user
agent is using (e.g., if we were all using SGML browsers instead of
HTML-only browsers). However, before you take this as a vote for SGML
browsers over HTML browsers, I do feel that the focus on HTML has
allowed us (the Web community) to establish a ubiquitous baseline
functionality that would be difficult if everyone's approach had been
SGML==>some dynamic DTD==>Stylesheet hooks==>presentation from the
beginning. Wrapping a more-or-less-stable DTD and the stylistic
properties applied to elements in that DTD into one
(easier-to-implement) package has allowed HTML the glory of driving
Internet publishing to incredible heights.

> -Chris
>Chris Wilson