Unfortunate CSS design

I was looking forward to reading a Slashdot interview with Håkon Wium Le, the inventor of Cascading Style Sheets. Unfortunately, the way the page was rendered, each question was in a monospaced typeface in a little pre-formatted window with a horizontal scroll bar. The horror! If this is what CSS buys us, I want nothing to do with it! :)

I remember when web sites first started adopting CSS. Browser support was exceptionally poor (it still is if one includes Microsoft IE – as Håkon writes, “standards don't benefit monopolists”) and the web designers didn't really know what they were doing with it either. The tell-tale sign of a CSS-based web site in those days was that text overlapped with other text. I presume this was because designers assumed certain fonts at certain sizes, and hard-coded positions of everything based on them. This did not fare well at all with my GNU/Linux/Mozilla setup. Eventually, browser support improved and designers learned better ways to deal with ‘liquid’ layouts and user-selectable font sizes.

Now, though, the capabilities of CSS are somewhat respectable. Sometimes I think it would be helpful to support a notion of ‘glue’ like in TeX. Glue is space that has a natural size, but can potentially shrink and expand as needed, within specified parameters. Or at least, I'd like to be able to specify a width as “3em + 5px,” since one of these measurements is relative to the current font size, and the other isn't.

I haven't really looked yet at what is in CSS3; maybe I should.

©20022015 Christopher League