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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: Håkon Wium Lie <howcome@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 13:04:10 +0200 (MET DST)

James Clark wrote:

 > There are
 > two potential accessibility dangers:
 > (i) the danger in sending general XML together with stylesheets that
 > specify only visual presentation for that XML
 > (ii) the danger of sending a format that contains only information
 > relating to visual presentation

Yes, we agree so far.

 > Both these dangers arise equally with XSL and CSS:
 > (i) arises equally with CSS and XSL because the CSS rendering objects
 > (or whatever you call them) and XSL formatting objects are at precisely
 > the same semantic level;
 > (ii) arises equally with CSS and XSL because there because HTML span
 > element with a style attribute provides a syntax for CSS rendering
 > objects just as XML provides a syntax for XSL formatting objects.

It's a bit unfair to pick on the SPAN element. It was introduced in
RFC 2070:

   First, a generic container is needed to carry the LANG and DIR (see
   below) attributes in cases where no other element is appropriate; the
   SPAN element is introduced for that purpose.

[1] http://sunsite.auc.dk/RFC/rfc/rfc2070

Also, there are things in CSS you can't do with <SPAN STYLE>, e.g. the
@page and :first-line constructs.

It's more natural to compare formatting objects with the FONT tag
since formatting is in focus. Invented by adolescents on caffeine, the
FONT tag entered HTML 3.2 in an attempt to formalize street HTML and
engaging Netscape in a dialog. It was deprecated in HTML 4.0 and is
considered harmful by at least two essays [2][3].

[2] http://www.isoc.org:8080/web_ml/html/fontface.en.html
[3] http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~mudws/font.html

I can understand why overworked undergraduates think FONT is cool, but
I'm very disappointed when a group of highly skilled adults tell kids
to stop playing, form a committee -- and then come out with a set of
supercharged FONT tags.


Håkon Wium Lie             http://www.operasoftware.com/people/howcome
howcome@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                  the browser is the computer

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