Craig Brozefsky on 9 Jan 2001 20:34:32 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Re: Disassociate Webdesign from Usability

brian carroll <> writes:

>  apparently CSS is an appearance-only markup. DHTML
>  (which i think is a blend of Javascript and CSS)
>  will add functionality, while XML will add custom
>  extensibility. the instructor basically agreed that
>  to make a website in this future will require one
>  to be a programmer.

CSS is not markup, but yes, it deals only with the presentation of the
document it's applied to.  It assigns different properties to the
structural elements of the document which determine how they will be
rendered by the browser, television, printer, or other presentation
device.  Learning CSS is all about learning how to address the structural
elements of the document, and what each property does. With CSS you can go
from very straightforward mappings of properties to elements, or you can
go for more abstract mappings in the quest for re-usability and
flexibility.  This makes it somewhat user-scalable, like in HTML where you
can go with unstructured tag-soup, or validated HTML3.2.

>  i asked about the 'cut-and-pasting' of borrowed code
>  as a way to continue web development without needing
>  to have a programming background. i think the instructor
>  believed it (XML/DHTML) will be too complex, and so the
>  non-coders will be stuck in the aesthetics department
>  of CSS design, which is look separated from structure.

With XHTML/HTML4.0 you can still cut and paste code with no problem. The
only difference is that the markup language is slightly stricter. For
instance, you can't leave off closing tags, but you can use a shortened
tag notation for empty tags.  The definition of well-formedness for
HTML4.0 documents is also stricter, and the average mook may have
difficulties producing well-formed document without some help from his

XHTML also comes in several DTDs, ranging from something that resembles
present day HTML all the way too something that has no display related
tags at all.

>  i tend to disbelieve this future. but if i believe it,
>  then i can see Geert's top 20 list being at the front
>  of the wave of this new expert movement. in this future,
>  an individual will no longer be able to put up their
>  own site, but will need a cadre of workers to do the
>  simplest thing. additional views appreciated.

I disbelieve it entirely.  The GUI HTML design tools [will be/have been]
updated to produce HTML4 and CSS stylesheets, so people can use those.  
Or, if they want to learn the two technologies they can still do them by
hand.  If they don't like CSS they can use the transitional DTDs and use
most of the same display-oriented elements that they've been using in
HTML.  If they like CSS they can use the Strict DTDs and do all the
display control in CSS, which is not very complex.

What this "expert movement" does allow for is better encoding of data that
will be used by both people and machines.  This enables a whole new set of
document navigation, searching, and linking technologies by making the
structure of the document easier for machines to discern. It also enables
a whole new set of options for accesability and presentation devices.  
The same document can have multiple CSS stylesheets, allowing it to be
displayed on giant HDTV screens, or tiny text only terminals, or perhaps
text-to-speech devices, with the author able to optimize the presentation
on each of these devices. Users can even apply their own stylesheets to
documents if they have special requirements like poor eyesight, or an
unshakeable desire for a particular font and color layout.

The presentation/structure split should not be taken as gospel of course,
but it does have it's advantages.

Craig Brozefsky                             <>
In the rich man's house there is nowhere to spit but in his face
					             -- Diogenes

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