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After HTML: GUI-ML?

 
 
Geoff Berrow
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      03-15-2006
Message-ID: <44184d86$1@kcnews01> from Joseph Kesselman contained the
following:

>Martin Underwood wrote:
>> HTML isn't meant to be a page layout language - my question is "why isn't
>> it?".

>
>Because that isn't what it was designed to be.
>
>The original assumption was that styling/rendering would be handled by
>the browser, and you'd pick/configure a browser to suit your own
>preferred formatting styles.
>
>Unfortunately, people who didn't understand this concept began abusing
>the HTML to try to control rendering. And some of the browser authors
>exacerbated that by adding styling features to their pre-standardization
>dialects of HTML... and then, when HTML *was* standardized, the
>standards committee was unwilling/unable to break those establieshed
>(bad) practices.


And this is really all you need to say. We also know that Microsoft has
totally destroyed sensible email communication with its Outlook products
and that Betamax was better than VHS.

I have a lot of sympathy for the purist view - I think the aims are
laudable and support them. But I've recently been doing some scripting
for a web design company who are stacked out with work. And the reason
they are stacked out with work is their locked down pixel perfect crisp
design. Bad practice it may be but these guys are delivering what the
customer wants. And unless you can manage to change things through
legislation the customer will continue to decide how web pages should
look and perform.
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JDS
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      03-15-2006
On Tue, 14 Mar 2006 23:10:23 +0000, Martin Underwood wrote:

> It would be so much easier as the designer of a site if you could be
> confident that everyone would see the same view of the page without the
> line breaks and table column widths being variable under user control. Let


That is what CSS is for.

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JDS
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      03-15-2006
On Wed, 15 Mar 2006 16:48:10 +0000, Martin Underwood wrote:

> "why
> isn't it?".


Because other things are available and have been worked out for the
*layout* part. Namely CSS.

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JDS
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      03-15-2006
On Wed, 15 Mar 2006 17:59:57 +0000, Geoff Berrow wrote:

> And the reason
> they are stacked out with work is their locked down pixel perfect crisp
> design.


Who says you can't have both pixel perfect design AND standard-based
document formatting?

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Tony
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      03-15-2006
"Geoff Berrow" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

> ...I've recently been doing some scripting
> for a web design company who are stacked out with work. And the reason
> they are stacked out with work is their locked down pixel perfect crisp
> design. Bad practice it may be but these guys are delivering what the
> customer wants. And unless you can manage to change things through
> legislation the customer will continue to decide how web pages should
> look and perform.


It is quite ironic: HTML started life as a document markup language, when
the concept of a document was shaped by printing on paper. In a traditional
document you start at the beginning, go on until you reach the end, and then
stop (with occasional asides for footnotes). HTML allowed interactive
documents that could never exist on paper - a printout would bear the same
relationship to the live document as a stuffed animal does to a wild one.
So the concept of a document changed, and HTML, which had been the leader of
change, was dragged behind.

In the traditional document, form and content were relatively easy to
separate. A complex modern "document" such as a page on a large e-commerce
site, makes enormous use of purely visual clues to guide the user. I have
no doubt that even in such a case, there is still a content that can be
separated from the form, and I even believe that it is a good thing for the
designer to try to do it, but it might not be a trivial job.

So it's hardly surprising that the person who pays wants as much control as
possible over form as well as content, and doesn't want to pay for the time
and thought of someone to take away some of their control over the form.

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Neredbojias
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      03-15-2006
With neither quill nor qualm, Martin Underwood quothed:

> > Do you ever browse the web as a =user=??

>
> Yes. It ****es me off that for some sites, as I move the margins of my
> window, the columns of tables grow/shrink


They must be set in percentages then. Were they set in pixels, they'd
(generally) remain fixed.

> and lines of text in a table or
> paragraphs of text surrounding photographs change their wrapping.


Text-sizing is a different matter. Unfortunately, the prognosis is
gloomy.

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Owen Rees
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      03-15-2006
On Wed, 15 Mar 2006 16:54:15 -0000, "Martin Underwood" <a@b> wrote in
<441846b9$1$6980$(E-Mail Removed)>:

>I wasn't aware that I was being ridiculous. I was asking a question in all
>innocence. From the replies, I see that I'm very much in the minority - well
>what a surprise: what's new


As has been pointed out, if you want the kind of layout control you seem
to favour, there is PDF. It is not limited to 'paper' sized pages, you
could generate 'screen' sized pages at your assumed resolution.

If at this point you are thinking "but HTML is more popular than PDF"
then there is a message there.

I believe that you can also get that kind of control with Flash, but I
have no personal experience of it - I have never created any, and my
usual browser does not have the appropriate renderer installed (and that
is my explicit choice).

To all those who think the web ought to have been different I would
point out that there were a lot of alternatives around at the same time.
If it had been what you think it ought to have been perhaps we would now
be using someting else that had whatever it was that made the web so
successful.

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axel@white-eagle.invalid.uk
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      03-15-2006
In uk.net.web.authoring Martin Underwood <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Next wrote in
> (E-Mail Removed) om:


>> Years ago, it occurred to me that a lot of the trouble
>> of writing web browsers is caused by the upside-down
>> arrangement of things: Javascript code exists inside
>> a document, when really it should be the other way around.
>> And yet, although this seems fairly obvious to me,
>> having tried myself to write a web browser and given up,
>> I don't see a lot of movement by major web browser
>> projects in a direction that might TRULY fix the problem.
>> I do see a few slow-moving projects: HTML5 and Web Applications.


> I think the bigger issue with HTML and browser design is that it only
> supplies *hints* and *suggestions* as to the formatting, rather than making
> all browsers display a page with identical formatting, as PDF does. It would
> be so much easier as the designer of a site if you could be confident that
> everyone would see the same view of the page without the line breaks and
> table column widths being variable under user control. Let users have a zoom
> control (as for Acrobat Reader) it they need larger print but don't let them
> change the font size independent of all other objects on the page; let the
> site author retain full control over all other aspects of formatting,
> typography etc.


How? Other than embedding typefaces in documents since all computers
do not have the set installed.

And when someone wants to view such pages through lynx or other text
based browser...?

Axel
 
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axel@white-eagle.invalid.uk
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      03-15-2006
In uk.net.web.authoring Simon Brooke <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> in message <(E-Mail Removed)5n.co.uk>, Toby Inkster
> ('(E-Mail Removed)') wrote:


>> Martin Underwood wrote:


>>> I think the bigger issue with HTML and browser design is that it only
>>> supplies *hints* and *suggestions* as to the formatting, rather than
>>> making all browsers display a page with identical formatting, as PDF
>>> does.


>> If you want PDF, then *use* PDF.


> /No-one/ wants PDF. /Ever/. There is never any good reason for using it.


I do. There are many documents I prefer to download as PDF files
and save and read at my leisure. Most of these being technical
documents which correspond to to their printed equivalent.

Or forms which need to be printed and filled out.

But then I could just as well use FTP to receive them except the
web allows suitable indices and means to find these documents.

Axel

 
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if
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      03-16-2006
"Martin Underwood" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
news:44174d66$0$3609$(E-Mail Removed):

> I think the bigger issue with HTML and browser design is that it only
> supplies *hints* and *suggestions* as to the formatting, rather than
> making all browsers display a page with identical formatting, as PDF
> does. It would be so much easier as the designer of a site if you
> could be confident that everyone would see the same view of the page
> without the line breaks and table column widths being variable under
> user control.



The problem with this suggestion is that Acrobat is probably one of the
worst methods for displaying documents on-screen ever devised. Its complete
inflexibility has me cursing almost every time I have open a PDF document.


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