Simplicity and HTML

Terry Allen (
Thu, 30 Mar 95 18:02:39 EST

Tables are not really complex. Describing tables in terms of their
appearance, instead of in terms of their logical structure (and
leaving the rendering details to the style sheet), is middling

A lot of people, including Dave, have taken the tack that tables
described in terms of their appearance are more useable than
tables described as logical structures + style sheets.

I'm not suggesting that the HTML table model should describe
tables logically rather than in terms of appearance, because I
think that without really slick tools, the conventional wisdom
here is correct. But I'd like to point out that what makes
CALS *and* HTML 3.0 tables middling complex instead of real
simple is all that formatting info.

Similarly with HTML 2.0 and 3.0. Take a mental walk through
these DTDs and hack out the formatting info. Quite a bit of
it, isn't there? Well, that's the cost of the present
tradeoffs between useability and simpicity. Formatting info
is in these DTDs (and the Netscape extensions) because users
want it now and no one wanted to implement a style sheet
mechanism. That means a more complex DTD, now and forever,
so long as this approach is continued, becoming more complex
as the DTD is extended.

The tradeoff is worth it for tables. The present discussion
isn't really about complexity, it's about NIH. As for the
rest, um, how's DSSSL-Light coming?


Terry Allen  (   O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Editor, Digital Media Group    101 Morris St.
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