Re: textured backgrounds

Peter Flynn (
Fri, 20 Jan 95 15:54:15 EST

> From: "Marc Salomon" <>
> Dave Raggett <> writes:
> |Yes,its the ability to cascade style sheets. It works roughly like
> this:
> 3| Browser style defaults
> 2| Style sheet linked to document
> 1| Style overrides in document head
> 0| User's overrides
> I would hope that for (2) an author would be able to specify a
> document-specific stylesheet that could contain a reference to an
> institution-specific stylesheet(s).

It's (0) that makes some publishers get that sinking feeling. The fact
that J Random User can turn their carefully-crafted pages into bird's
nest soup.

Rob writes:
I would like to make a strong request for the ability of the
publisher to specify that the stylesheet they provide should
not/must not be overridden in the browser.

Right. But the problem is, whose probity can we trust? There are
dozens of pages I've seen where my first reaction has been "Sheesh,
that needs a damn good tidy up, don't the idiots realize...etc"

Publishing is comprised of a number of functions. The three most
important, in the minds of many publishers, are:

1. control over content (the editorial role)
2. control over presentation (the production role)
3. control over distribution (the financial role)

Right again, and in _that_ order, none other.

Traditional publishing is always a question of control.

Hehe. From the looks on their faces yesterday, some of them didn't
like the implication that they were control freaks.

Publishers, to fully embrace the Web as a publishing tool, must be
given the same controls over their product online as they have in the
really real world.

Trouble is, Bob, that would cripple the Web permanently, and make it a
tool for the very highly subjective and selective dissemination of
information in the hands of a few rich and powerful people. Would we
really want Robert Maxwell to have controlled the Web?

I take the middle view: times change, and publishers must realize that
although they've had a good run since 1450, the party is now breaking
up. They were so slow to even consider new technology ("new"? I
co-authored a report on technology in 1979 for the Printing and
Publishing Industry Training Board which explained in fine detail how
computerization was going to affect production and distribution before
the end of the century, and it was rejected for being too futuristic
:-) that they now risk being overtaken by events.

Instead of sitting idly by and griping at the inadequacies of HTML,
they need to consider very seriously how they can direct their
investment towards making sure that the Web becomes a viable new
medium for them. A few companies have done this, and their
representatives are on this Working Group, and I for one am very
grateful to them for their support and hard work...BUT the majority of
publishers are relatively clueless at the organization level (although
of course there are mamany individuals who are clued up, but they are
not in decision-making positions), and need some serious education,
which this group is in a position to provide.

While the creation of tools which release the user from this imposed
control is a valuable pursuit, for the web to be a truly effective
publishing vehicle, we need to support the publisher rather than
dismissing their business and general worldview as retrogressive and

I think we may have to agree to disagree on this. I'm all for
supporting the publisher, and I could not dismiss their business. But
I can and will continue to try and persuade them that the real world
has changed since the 1500s, and that (as at now, whether they like it
or not) the Web's display "features" are largely in the hands of the
user. If they wish to change this, their course of action is clear:
put their money where their mouth is. Some have already done so, and
will reap their rewards sooner rather than later.

And while I'm on the soapbox, can we try to educate browser-writers
about typography? Last time I looked, NCSA Mosaic still broke a line
at a start-tag such as <em>, if this falls at a line-end, even if it
is in the middle of a word! The TYPO-L list is not there for nothing!