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   Re: Why I dislike CSS

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  • From: "Sebastian Rahtz" <sebastian.rahtz@computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
  • To: amyzing@talsever.com
  • Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 22:30:55 +0100 (BST)

Amy Lewis writes:

 ... anti-CSS stuff omitted, because I agree with all of it ....

 > irritating habit of applying the "mom and pop" test.  That is, they
 > would ask "could a mom-and-pop shop (Ma and Pa Kettle's Online Special
 > Recipe Depot) use this software".  XSL FO fails the test, in my
 > opinion.

I think it is far too early to tell. There is more or less no end-user 
software to support generation of XSL FO. Until mom and pop see a
range of that, the jury may be out.

 > depending on the kindness of strangers (who will develop the
 > interactive tools that will allow one to actually use the language,
 > since it's so large and variegated--over fifty elements, over two
 > hundred attributes that relate to those elements--that it isn't likely
 > to be easily learned).

you could say the same about full HML4, surely?

 > That leaves me with basically nothing, if I want to go out and help
 > Ma&Pa join the electronic revolution

I bet they'll just load HTML into Word. Its not that bad a route

 > Perhaps the
 > XSLFO folks could produce a "core" outline

XSL FO *does* have a core. Maybe it is not explained well enough, but
all the elements attribute are classified as "Basic", "Full" and
 > So, drawing on material from CSS & XSLFO, and from XLink, XSLT,
 > XPointer, and XPath, I've put up a really quick pass at a layout
 > vocabulary for XML, at
 > http://www.mindspring.com/~alicorn/xslv.txt

Interesting, but in what sense are you doing something other than
defining a minimal subset of XSL FO? How would this help Ma and Pa?
They still need some layout software, which will generate this xslv
language. You can write a language that is easier to learn, by cutting 
down on the mind-boggling number of attributes in FO, but it remains
an unnatural thing for most people to write this sort of thing. And if 
you have layout software, it might as well do the full hog of XSL FO?

If I was a betting man, I'd lay a few pounds on XSL FO being rejected
by the W3C membership when it is submitted to ballot, for all sorts of 
political reasons. Which would be a great pity for those of us who
want it and use it even now. For that reason, your XSLV suggestion
might just be a good idea, taking the good bits of XSL FO without the 
historical and political baggage.

Trouble is, how long would be it, once a discussion started about an
XSLV, before you found yourself adding more and more bloat? You need
to define a really really tight target audience ("mom and pop" won't
do). How long before, say, page number references or dynamic section
headers raised they little heads?

I am sure many people use XMetal. I find its style interface plausible 
for many types of documents. Sadly, they generate CSS, but they could
certainly generate XSL FO (or xslv) instead, and Ma and Pa could use

Sebastian Rahtz

PS if you produce a sample document using XSLV, I'll show you a
rendering engine which processes it within a day or two :-} (TeX rules

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