Re: color text?

Joe English (
Wed, 3 May 95 20:36:42 EDT

Lou Montulli <> wrote:

> > [attribution lost]
> > Please give me a list of all formatting attributes that will ever be
> > needed.
> There is no need to. We can simply add to the list when needed.
> This is exactly what you are planning to do with style sheets.
> > The above goes against a fundamental tenet of SGML (and after a long
> > painful period of debate, HTML), which is that the data should be as
> > independent as possible from style information.
> Oh please, not this again. Stop trying to invent fundamental tenets
> that don't exist. SGML is a syntactical language than can express
> formatting equally as well as content based markup. Trying to claim
> SGML as a "content" only language is an outright lie.

I have to agree with Lou here. *Most* SGML applications
*usually* emphasize content over presentation, because
that's often a good design decision, but nothing says they
*must*. The SDL (Something [semantic?] Delivery Language) DTD
specifies quite a bit of formatting information, not to
mention the Rainbow DTD which is almost all style attributes.

Having said that, there are still good reasons to move as many
formatting directives as possible out of the HTML DTD proper and
into an external notation. If developers just "add to the
list [of attributes] when needed", the DTD may *never*
stabilize. This will be a serious detriment to the development
of other, content-based, applications like indexers, cross-referencers
and document validators. If all style information is dumped into
a stylesheet, then only formatters need to deal with changes to the spec.

There's also the issues of readability and editability.
Despite all the predictions to the contrary, people are
still going to be editing HTML "by hand" for a while now.
If making the output look pretty means making the input look
like garbage, everyone would be better off using MS Word and
delivering RTF instead.

How many style attributes in the body content are acceptable?
(IMO, one per element is more than enough, and that should
index a stylesheet, but others probably feel differently about this.)

--Joe English