[thelist] front end design: liquid design

Felix Miata mrmazda at ij.net
Thu Oct 30 16:53:16 CDT 2008

On 2008/10/30 20:23 (GMT+0100) Gunlaug Sørtun composed:

> Felix Miata wrote:

>> It boils down that the only relevant relatives in CSS are the em and 
>> the ex. Fortunately they can work, if only more than a token number 
>> of developers would use them for something besides arbitrarily 
>> shrinking most text from whatever user preference sizes happen to be.

> That's the problem with 'em'/'ex' - they're locked to font-size.

I've never seen a demonstration of anything like that sort of assertion. I'm
a firm believer that em is very good, and clearly the best CSS tool for most
non-image sizing, with nothing else coming close to good for anything besides
web-hosted magazine pages.

> If used
> _directly_ as units for element-dimensions they easily force layouts
> wider than the available screen if one sizes text up, or cramp
> everything together in very narrow "pages" in those very rare cases were
> text is already large enough to allow for down-sizing.

Again, I've yet to see a demonstration of this that doesn't also incorporate
excessive attempt to control. CSS is not a page layout program. Its purpose
is style suggestion. There's a range of reasonableness in content size to
viewport size relationship beyond which no reasonable person should expect
results to remain reasonable. Most people who want or need huge text don't
try to use little windows, just as people who like mousetype generally avoid
large windows.

> The 'em' unit can be useful for 'max-width' in percentage-dimensioned -
> what I call "conditional" - layouts,


> but it is pretty useless for
> dimensioning anything but text beyond that.

No way. Got some proof?

> Browsers generally not so great scaling of objects other than text,
> makes the 'em' even less useful beyond basic text-scaling and
> "dimensional conditioning".

The significance of image scaling quality varies by context. On most web
pages, absolute image quality is secondary if not tertiary or inconsequential
to what the page is about. That image scaling quality is less than ideal
should not be a significant factor in styling decisions for most web pages.

If users were permitted to see more of how bad some browsers scale images,
there would be more demand for browser improvement, and more gravitation to
browsers that do better. The current mediocre scaling state tends to
perpetuate itself by maintaining disincentive to improve.

> Today the status is that "nothing works really well", which means it is
> not possible for anyone to create something anywhere near the ideal web
> publishing solution that can/will work for all end-users, with html/CSS
> alone - and the alternatives are not great either.

Em styling works well enough that magazine pages feigning to be web pages
should not be the general dev practice that users actually suffer on today's
web. Those who _really_ need to publish in the traditional sense,
pseudo-paper, usually ought not to be using HTML/CSS, and probably PDF
instead. Most who think that's what they need probably don't actually need
to, and should be content to publish in synergy with the web's inherent
nature using HTML/CSS, including sizing predominantly using em.

Now I'm really disappointed that you never got down here during your USA trip
so that we could have figured out why we have this apparent difference of
opinion. :-(
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and
slow to become angry."		James 1:19 NIV

 Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409

Felix Miata  ***  http://fm.no-ip.com/

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