[thelist] Re: A pixel need not be a pixel

CodeBitch codebitch at macedition.com
Wed Jun 20 22:11:26 CDT 2001

The issue in Opera 5/Mac does appear to be a "bug", but could well have been
one informed by the standard.

The discussion on littlegreenfootballs' weblog is very useful: <http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php?y=1&x=archives/00000525.htm>

In particular, a poster called Howard referenced the book by Lie and Bos (same
people who wrote the CSS spec), where it is made clear that px on computer screens
is physical pixels, but px units *elsewhere* may be something different. If
only the spec itself had been similarly clear! :-/  My suspicion, raised in
the article that started the kerfuffle in the first place, is that the Opera
engineers read the spec, understood the pixel-scaling issue and them misapplied
it to Mac OS screens because the OS says that it's 72ppi, even though it's clearly

This still means that people styling fonts in pixel sizes for screen presentation
are in trouble as soon as 200dpi screens become commercially available, but
there is clearly going to be more breathing space before this happens.

I'm less convinced by the "browser conservatism" argument. Netscape 6 fixed
many CSS bugs in version 4, eg, background-color not going to the edge of block
elements without borders, and IE6 is fixing IE5's broken box model.



Peter-Paul Koch wrote:
Although you're right that some browser must start following the standards,

there are two distinct ways of implementing the standards:

1) Adding something new (like CSS2 or the W3C DOM) to your browser. This is

fine (great, in fact) and it happens all the time.
2) Revising something already present in the browsers because the current 
implementation does not exactly follow the standards. This, I think, cannot

be done and will not be done.

>What happens next is open to speculation, but I'd be in favor of revising 

>the standard, personally. What I've been saying on this thread is that I 
>think Opera got the standard right, but that the standard was wrong to say

>what it does.

Yes, I agree. What should happen is that W3C defines a new CSS unit which 
does what you've described. Once that is done, browsers can implement it as

a *new* standard, which is no problem at all.


Unfortunately typography is not my main strength, so I cannot really answer

to this, but I still have the feeling that the standard is trying to change

the way we've always treated monitors. As I said before, adding something 
new is easy, but changing something that has been in use for years is much 

more difficult, if not impossible.


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