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Coding practices of large sites

I've seen a few attractive multi-column sites whose geometry is based
on pure CSS-P, but they're what you might call "code afficionado"
sites, where the subject matter of the site is "coding practices." (One
example of this is alistapart.com.) However, the project/development
realities for small boutique sites are completely different from those
of large commercial or institutional sites -- and I was curious to see
what coding approaches are currently in use at the latter. So I made up
a list of big commercial sites off the top of my head, visited each
site on the list, and looked at their code. The quick summaries of what
I found are below. (I looked at home pages only. Add ".com" to each
name for site location.)

Even if you just skim through the results, please notice at the end of
this post: my very brief comment, and my two questions coming out of
all this.

---------------------
_Amazon_
No doctype.
CSS styles and JavaScripts defined in head and body.
Body a mix of absolute positioned CSS, tables, and JavaScripts.
---------------------
_Apple_
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
Mostly table code; some CSS; inline JavaScripts.
---------------------
_BBC_
<!doctype html public "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd">
Tables; CSS; CSS classes applied to table elements.
---------------------
_CNN_
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"><html
lang="en">
Tables; CSS; CSS classes applied to table elements.
---------------------
_Ebay_
Unbelievably long and complex code: loading the home page loads 31 (!)
additional text files into the cache (one is a CSS file, the others are
all JavaScript files). HTML file features:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<HTML XMLNS:IE>
Mostly table code with old-fashioned tags like <font...> etc. Many tag
constructions like <BR><BR><BR> and &nbsp;&nbsp;|&nbsp;
Numerous inline JavaScripts.
The only external CSS file ("homepage.css") is incredibly short and
completely incomprehensible to me. Here are its entire contents:

@media all {
IE\:HOMEPAGE {behavior:url(#default#homepage)}
}
---------------------
_Google_ (simple search)
No DTD. No external linked files. Extensive inline JavaScripts.
Uses table code with old-fashioned tags like <font...> etc.; some
inline CSS.
_Google_ (advanced seach)
No DTD. Code similar to simple-search, except more CSS defined in head.
---------------------
_IBM_
<!DOCTYPE html SYSTEM
"http://www.ibm.com/data/dtd/v11/ibmxhtml1-transitional.dtd">
Mostly table code, with some CSS classes applied to table elements;
uses code constructions like &nbsp;&nbsp;|&nbsp;&nbsp;
---------------------
_Microsoft_ No DTD. Mostly table code, with CSS styles applied to
table elements.
_Slate_ No DTD. Mostly tables; some CSS. Weird code.
---------------------
_NYTimes_
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
Note linked script name: <script src="/js/csssniff.js"></script>
Table code, use tags like <br><br> and <font face...
---------------------

Summary - what I found:
Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not CSS-P, to
define its page geometry. (Amazon was a partial exception; they used
both.) All used CSS to define typographic styles, and sometimes other
things, at least to some extent; although <font... and other deprecated
tags were also common.

Two questions:
Large sites typically have separate job functions for Web developers
(coders) and designers. Logically, I have to assume that at least
*some* of these sites have knowledgeable developer teams; and for that
matter, even graphical editing programs like Dreamweaver have
increasing levels of CSS support. So why these results? Specifically:

1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?

2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?

These questions are not rhetorical arguments-in-disguise; I really
haven't made up my mind yet, and I'm certainly not trying to start an
argument. I look forward to your replies.
Jul 20 '05 #1
55 4785
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> schrieb:
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
i think this is because they are afraid of how older browsers would
deal with the css. i am building a site at
http://tomasio.laudatio.com/jobs/Cla...gallery_ba.php
and although it is validated as XHTML and CSS 2, i still get the wrong
display (background-color of div.Description does not extend until the
bottom of the browserwindow) in firefox 0.9. i would not take the same
efforts of code-hacking for a large site to be built.2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


hm. it's ashaming, but i don't know any ; )
--
kind regards,
tomasio
"describing an issue reveals the way to solve it"
Jul 20 '05 #2
Jonas Smithson wrote:
Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not CSS-P, to
define its page geometry.
[Insert CSS purist "because they're not as smart as us" rant here]
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
Just because something is "superior" doesn't mean it will actually _work_!
Big sites need to support as many browsers as possible, including older ones
which don't support much CSS. Delivering ugly pages to them probably
translates to lost sales, etc. If tables can be used to create a
presentation which looks good for old browsers and _still_ looks good for
newer browsers, isn't the choice obvious?

CSS is slick and obviously a superior way to design for the web. If all
browsers supported it, and all the features actually worked, and
implementations were actually consistent, then everyone would be flocking to
it, IMO. But that's not the case, and Real Sites (tm) realize this.

That's why it's wise to listen to the purist mantras and consider them (with
regards to any technology, not just css, because they exist for every topic)
but then hedge them with a reality check. Sometimes purists have blinders
on, and are so focused on the technology and having everything validate and
line up perfectly, that they miss the bigger picture - that these
technologies are worthless without being _used_ in the real world. It's
great that there are people who focus on the details and hammer out "the way
things ought to be" because it advances technology in a positive way. But
they are often frustrated that the real world doesn't allow for adopting
those advances as quickly as they would like. Looking to the giants of the
web - who surely employ very intelligent and experienced developers - is a
good litmus test for how far "reality" is behind "ideal".

All IMO.
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


I would be interested in this also.

--
Matt Kruse
Javascript Toolbox: http://www.JavascriptToolbox.com/
Jul 20 '05 #3
*Jonas Smithson* <sm************@boardermail.com>:

1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
The first reason is probably that the code has grown over the years and was
never substantially changed. The second one is that there is this undying
wish of many decision makers to have the site look the same in all
environments that have or had some significant importance during the site's
lifespan. That means NS4 and IE4 usually shall still work, but Opera 7 and
Lynx don't matter (the latter at best due to some usually misunderstood
accessibility initiative).
Nevertheless, if I were to build such a mutli-million visitor site, I'd also
use a *basic* layout table, but cleaner, more separated and valid code.
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


<http://www.stern.de> (a German weekly magazine), not the best code, though.
I don't know if you'd accept <http://www.opera.com> and
<http://www.mozilla.org> as valid examples.

--
Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on FTP,
and let the rest of the world mirror it. (Linus Torvalds)
Jul 20 '05 #4
/Jonas Smithson/:
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


May be http://www.theregister.co.uk is good example, too, although
they use a single TABLE element for the general layout (the middle
part). Note, they serve different stylesheets for IE and the other
browsers.

--
Stanimir
Jul 20 '05 #5
/Stanimir Stamenkov/:
/Jonas Smithson/:
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


May be http://www.theregister.co.uk/ is good example, too, although they
use a single TABLE element for the general layout (the middle part).
Note, they serve different stylesheets for IE and the other browsers.


One more - the Macromedia's site <http://www.macromedia.com/>.

--
Stanimir
Jul 20 '05 #6
Jonas Smithson wrote:
the project/development realities for small boutique sites are
completely different from those of large commercial or
institutional sites
Are they? They use the same web; their visitors use the same
browsers. Perhaps the only "reality" that's different is how they
approach document production.
I made up a list of big commercial sites off the top of my head,
visited each site on the list, and looked at their code. Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not
CSS-P, to define its page geometry.
This is hardly news. Did you search the group archives? This point
is brought up in many discussions about table layout.
Large sites typically have separate job functions for Web
developers (coders) and designers. Logically, I have to assume
that at least *some* of these sites have knowledgeable developer
teams; and for that matter, even graphical editing programs like
Dreamweaver have increasing levels of CSS support. So why these
results?
Large companies often do things that don't make sense, and that's
not limited to web dev. But let's stay on topic. Consider Google's
results page. Loads of nested tables, many of which seem only there
to provide a few pixles of space between a pseudo heading and ads or
some such thing. They could save a fair amount of bandwidth by
simplifying the results template, while keeping the same layout even
in Netscape 4 and IE 4.
If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout,
Defind your criteria for "superior."
why are *none* of these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
CSS P is hard to pull off. And, since HTML 3.2, web developers have
tried to treat HTML as a DTP language. It's very bad at DTP, and
requires proprietary markup (or what was proprietary but was later
added to HTML as "deprecated" elements/attributes).

Perhaps, if HTML had not taken the 3.2 detour, there would not be an
expectation that a page look the same in all browsers. Or maybe
there still would. Ho hum.
Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or
institutional sites (whose subject matter is not "coding
practices") that *do* use CSS to define their page geometry, so
that I can look at their code?
A search of the group would have revealed the same answers that
you'll receive now. I recall sits for ESPN and the PGA being
mentioned. I think I'll let you find those sites and confirm for
yourself.
These questions are not rhetorical arguments-in-disguise;


We'll see.

--
Brian
Jul 20 '05 #7
tomasio wrote:
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> schrieb:

1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?


i think this is because they are afraid of how older browsers would
deal with the css.


Is it stated somewhere on the internet what the breakdown of usage of the
various browsers is?

A friend built the Australian Government Revenue Office website, and he said
they were told that 95% of users use IE, so they didn't worry too much about
other browsers. I don't think they used any CSS because IE is so standards
non-compliant.

--
Ben Thomas
Opinions, conclusions, and other information in this message that do not
relate to the official business of my firm shall be understood as neither
given nor endorsed by it.

Jul 20 '05 #8
Jonas Smithson wrote:
I've seen a few attractive multi-column sites whose geometry is based
on pure CSS-P, but they're what you might call "code afficionado"
sites, where the subject matter of the site is "coding practices."
(One example of this is alistapart.com.) However, the
project/development realities for small boutique sites are completely
different from those of large commercial or institutional sites --
and I was curious to see what coding approaches are currently in use
at the latter. So I made up a list of big commercial sites off the
top of my head, visited each site on the list, and looked at their
code. The quick summaries of what I found are below. (I looked at
home pages only. Add ".com" to each name for site location.)
You don't actually need to look at their code. Use the following local CSS,
(which also works with IE). (I have used this for weeks on end, at various
times over the last 9 months or so). It puts a dotted blue rectangle round
every table. You will probably find that about 99% of the pages you look at
use some sort of layout table.

table { border: 1px dotted blue; }

[snip] Summary - what I found:
Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not CSS-P, to
define its page geometry. (Amazon was a partial exception; they used
both.) All used CSS to define typographic styles, and sometimes other
things, at least to some extent; although <font... and other
deprecated tags were also common.
I hope you accept that layout-tables are not deprecated. They will be valid
with Strict documents for decades to come.
Two questions:
Large sites typically have separate job functions for Web developers
(coders) and designers. Logically, I have to assume that at least
*some* of these sites have knowledgeable developer teams; and for that
matter, even graphical editing programs like Dreamweaver have
increasing levels of CSS support. So why these results? Specifically:
Dreamweaver (MX 2004) has very good support for CSS indeed. Its Standard Mode,
Design View, is a WYSIWYG-like editor with reasonably good CSS2-compliance. I
would argue that a combined set of editors for CSS & HTML with CSS awareness
is more likely to encourage CSS-exploitation than separate editors. (My target
is valid 4.01 Strict, and the only obstacle that MX 2004 puts in my way is
that it doesn't "escape" "&" in external links!)

For interest, a few days ago I uploaded a (very highly compressed, very narrow
editting window) screenshot of Dreamweaver MX 2004 editing a page:
http://www.barry.pearson.name/test/screen_shot_kn.jpg
And here is the page it was editting:
http://www.kingsnorton.info/
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
Others regulars may not want me to be considered a regular! But, I don't
believe that CSS is clearly superior to table layout for defining page layout.
Nor vice versa.

We don't have a proper page layout language. No one ever bothered to make one
a recommendation. I suspect that the people capable of defining one didn't see
the need for one. Or else just didn't follow through. So, even if we had full
CSS2 browser compliance, we would still perform page layout as a cooperation
between the top-level elements of the document tree and CSS. All major
features of CSS2 depend on the document tree. Inheritance (by definition!),
floating, absolute-positioning, and normal flow for layout down the page, (and
its neighbour relative-positioning), are all governed by the document tree.

It is common for practitioners of CSS-positioning, (including myself), to add
extra mark-up, such as wrapping, and clearing-<div>s, etc. We ensure that the
wrapping & nesting & sequencing of the top-level elements of the document tree
provide the structure & "hooks" for our CSS to operate on. We use our
ingenuity to simulate "columns", even though CSS2, unlike table-mark-up,
doesn't have columns. We add extra wrapping at other places to ensure that
various combinations of elements are treated as entities.

Table-mark-up simply comes as pre-defined wrapping & nesting & sequencing.
Except that it is a bit more honest. If you want 3 columns, you say so in the
mark-up. Others wrap it in <div>s, then turn those into pseudo-columns using
CSS plus various other techniques. I am sometimes amused by the extra mark-up
that CSS-positioning practitioners add to the document in order to avoid
adding well-defined table-mark-up to the document! (And I'm also guilty).

You can use non-table-mark-up to lay things out in rows & columns. Or you can
use table-mark-up and lay things out in other ways. See:
The CSS Patio Garden
http://www.barry.pearson.name/tableaux/
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?

[snip]

In addition to those already mentioned:
http://www.direct.gov.uk/

But - so what? What does that prove? I sometimes look at table-layout pages
and think "I could do that much better with CSS". And I look at
tableless-layout pages and think "that would be better all round using a
simple table". I think the discussion needs to be raised to a higher level.

All of these are sensible techniques for authors to have in their toolkits.
Then the authors should systematically decide what combination to use for
their current purpose. They are, presumably, not trying to win a "mark-up of
the year award" with this newsgroup. More likely, they are trying to
communicate with their audience, and should be judged on that.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #9
BenOne© wrote:
[snip]
Is it stated somewhere on the internet what the breakdown of usage of
the various browsers is?

A friend built the Australian Government Revenue Office website, and
he said they were told that 95% of users use IE, so they didn't worry
too much about other browsers. I don't think they used any CSS
because IE is so standards non-compliant.


A pathetic excuse!

Every version of IE from IE 5 onwards, (and probably earlier ones, but I can't
be sure), supports sufficient CSS for full use of CSS for just about
everything. I have many tableless-pages, and the occasional
tableless-web-site, that work perfectly well in IE 5.

For basic styling of already-laid-out elements, IE has few problems. And there
is plenty of help here & elsewhere to find the work-arounds. IE 5 has
well-known issues with the box-model & some other matters, and if you want to
push things to precise levels, there are some hacks to cater for this.
(Sometimes I just don't bother, because often the difference is that some
boxes have a different size. Gosh!)

Yes, IE is often non-compliant. And, surprise surprise, I can catch out just
about any browser if I want to. I even have cases where Firefox agrees with IE
5 & 6, while Netscape 7.1 disagrees! And Opera has some "interesting"
rendering of CSS handling of tables. There is no substitute for lots of
testing. And it is unfortunate that knowledge of bugs & hacks is needed. It is
up to any author to judge where to draw the line.

By the way, I believe that most Australian government sites *do* use CSS. In
combination with table-layout. Fine.
http://www.ato.gov.au/

But, perhaps this is the one you mean? It is an exception:
http://www.revenue.act.gov.au/r_ltax.html

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #10
Matt Kruse wrote:
Jonas Smithson wrote:
Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not CSS-P,
to define its page geometry.
[snip] CSS is slick and obviously a superior way to design for the web. If
all browsers supported it, and all the features actually worked, and
implementations were actually consistent, then everyone would be
flocking to it, IMO. But that's not the case, and Real Sites (tm)
realize this.

[snip]

Hm! An apparent assumption that if CSS2 positioning worked fully, there would
be no use for layout tables. I disagree.

We don't have a proper page layout language. No one ever bothered to make one
a recommendation. I suspect that the people capable of defining one didn't see
the need for one. Or else just didn't follow through. So, even if we had full
CSS2 browser compliance, we would still perform page layout as a cooperation
between the top-level elements of the document tree and CSS. All major
features of CSS2 depend on the document tree. Inheritance (by definition!),
floating, absolute-positioning, and normal flow for layout down the page, (and
its neighbour relative-positioning), are all governed by the document tree.

We all have to live with the fact that we need to ensure our mark-up & CSS
work together. If authors stop using elements for what they were intended for,
and instead rely on CSS to revert to the rendering they desire, we may be
concerned about the robustness of those pages, or at least their ability to be
handled by the more extreme browsers. Or we may simply say "don't make trouble
for yourself, do things the easy way!"

If the layout intention is to have 2 elements side-by-side, what is the merit
in *not* using a table for that purpose? Table-mark-up was intended & designed
to layout material in rows & columns. (And CSS2 was *not* intended to provide
columns - using it to provide columns is something it was not intended for).

There is no cautionary reason to stop using layout tables in the next couple
of decades. I think the direction will be set by the tools available to
encourage the ubiquitous use of CSS.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #11
On Mon, 21 Jun 2004 19:16:47 +0200, tomasio <da****@jan.et> wrote:
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> schrieb:
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
i think this is because they are afraid of how older browsers...


Nope; The effect is caused by shere ignorance among the young crowd of
implementers and too much M$ influence. (and M$ do not care about old
Netscape stiffs that still moves occasionally)

I do work for a rather big industrial automation company here in Europe,
our "so called" web site is at <http://www.midroc.se> one of those sites
that you can not get full experience from, unless you use the (in)famous
M$ OP-system component to access it.

A plain search on available spiders for keywords available on our so
called web site, lists most of our competitors in the market but not us
by some reason.

I'm on the "inside" of the firewall on this, but believe me, as long as
M$ are providing the nice dinners and the pep talk, Win2003 will be
rolled all over me in the near future, regardless of what I want.

--
Rex
Jul 20 '05 #12
"Christoph Paeper" <ch**************@nurfuerspam.de> a écrit dans le
message de news:cb**********@ariadne.rz.tu-clausthal.de
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?


The first reason is probably that the code has grown over the years
and was never substantially changed. The second one is that there is
this undying wish of many decision makers to have the site look the
same in all environments that have or had some significant importance
during the site's lifespan. That means NS4 and IE4 usually shall
still work, but Opera 7 and Lynx don't matter (the latter at best due
to some usually misunderstood accessibility initiative).


Very good point, that was exactly what I wanted to write ! Big websites are
always powered by large applications, and they were written few years back -
a time when the web wasn't what it is now. Changing it to become more
standard is not always very simple.

Plus, at least in France a lot of web companies did fire their employees in
the "startup crack" of the early 2000. And since that web teams didn't get
to grow again, they just live with the minima. So don't expect any changes.

Yes, make your site "web standards compliant" has real advantages for the
final users and also for maintenance. But, he, it's taking a lot of time,
efforts and so money to do that. And by that time the web site is still
working, the historicals users with their Netscape4 browsers can always use
it... So, it's not a big priority if you're just one or two people to get a
big website to work.

Just to precise, just a few months back I was the only developper in charge
of a big french website (about 3.5M web pages with publicity per month, more
than 600k lines of code, more than 15 dedicated servers, ...) and well, the
first concern we had was to make the best with the very little of means we
had.

Jul 20 '05 #13
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> writes:
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?
It wasn't more than a couple of years ago that common browsers weren't
really capable of coping with CSS layouts. Once Mozilla/Opera 5/IE6
came out it became much easier.

Table layout is not going to kill a website, and most of them have
bigger problems to fix anyway (count the missing alt attributes on a
lot of big commercial sites).

Probably they have bigger priorities than a template rewrite.
2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


"Kris" <kr*******@xs4all.nl.omitthis> wrote in message
news:kr*****************************@newszilla.xs4 all.nl...
} http://www.uoguelph.ca/~stuartr/
} http://www.interactionbydesign.com/ (yeah, well, it is different!)
} http://www.opera.com/
} http://www.marsorange.com/ (again, the different-category)
} http://www.frightenstein.com/
} http://www.minid.net/
} http://www.asteric.co.uk/
} http://mbusa.com/brand/index.jsp (Mercedes Benz USA)
} http://www.onepointzero.com/

There's a few others as well.

And we use stylesheet layout: http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/

--
Chris
Jul 20 '05 #14
Chris Morris wrote:
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> writes:
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?


It wasn't more than a couple of years ago that common browsers weren't
really capable of coping with CSS layouts. Once Mozilla/Opera 5/IE6
came out it became much easier.

[snip]

Was that really the problem? For example, my CSS layouts work in IE 5, and I
think so do those of most other authors. And those other browsers haven't
really gone away, have they? Except, perhaps, for NN4, people still tend to
cater for older browsers. (And IE 6 introduced some weird float-bugs of its
own!)

I think what is much more relevant is that a lot more is now known about how
to do CSS layouts. Not long ago, a flexible 3-column layout was "the holy
grail". Now it is pretty routine. There has been a steady accumulation of
knowledge of bugs & non-compliances, and hacks & workarounds to cater for
specific problems. I've just been looking at one of the CSSs at W3C, and it
runs through a whole set of hacks for Konqueror 3.1, Safari 1.0b, IE 6 &
others, Opera 6, etc. (See CSS for the W3C page below). And it is also easier,
perhaps, to run a range of different browsers on your system, for example
multiple versions of IE, for testing purposes.
http://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/figures.html

In addition, I think people are using different design concepts, that are more
sympathetic to CSS techniques. For example, minimising images slices in the
document/foreground, while making more use of backgrounds via CSS. Sometimes
this makes a visible difference, (which some people criticise), while in other
cases it is "just" a different, (and often better), way of achieving the same
visual design.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #15
"Barry Pearson" <ne**@childsupportanalysis.co.uk> writes:
Chris Morris wrote:
Jonas Smithson <sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> writes:
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?


It wasn't more than a couple of years ago that common browsers weren't
really capable of coping with CSS layouts. Once Mozilla/Opera 5/IE6
came out it became much easier.

[snip]

Was that really the problem? For example, my CSS layouts work in IE 5, and I
think so do those of most other authors. And those other browsers haven't
really gone away, have they? Except, perhaps, for NN4, people still tend to
cater for older browsers. (And IE 6 introduced some weird float-bugs of its
own!)


Hmm, it's NN4 and IE4 that I'm really referring to. NN6 for that
matter had some messed up stylesheet support (and indeed fairly broken
table support), but hardly anyone used it.

--
Chris
Jul 20 '05 #16
BenOne© wrote:
Is it stated somewhere on the internet what the breakdown of
usage of the various browsers is?
In lots of places. And each statistic is about as unreliable as the
next.
A friend built the Australian Government Revenue Office website,
and he said they were told that 95% of users use IE,
Nonsense. There is no way to be sure of such a thing.
so they didn't worry too much about other browsers.
So 5% of Australians were s*** out of luck? Nice governement policy.
I don't think they used any CSS because IE is so standards
non-compliant.


IE/Win is a terrible beast of program, but it is capable of a fair
amount of css. That seems like a clueless design team.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #17
Barry Pearson wrote:
BenOne© wrote:

A friend built the Australian Government Revenue Office
website, and he said they were told that 95% of users use IE,
so they didn't worry too much about other browsers. I don't
think they used any CSS because IE is so standards
non-compliant.


Every version of IE from IE 5 onwards, (and probably earlier
ones, but I can't be sure), supports sufficient CSS for full use
of CSS for just about everything.


AIUI, IE 4 is roughly on par with Netscape 4 (shudder) in terms of
css, uh, "support." I think IE 3 might have been the first to make
some attempts at CSS, but it was very beta. This is gleaned from
comments in ciwa*, not from personal experience, so take it with a
grain of salt.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #18
Matt Kruse wrote:
Jonas Smithson wrote:
Every large commercial site I looked at used table code, not
CSS-P, to define its page geometry.
[Insert CSS purist "because they're not as smart as us" rant
here]


I smell an ad hominem attack.
Just because something is "superior" doesn't mean it will
actually _work_!
Define what you mean by "work." I suspect it is different than my
meaning.
Big sites need to support as many browsers as possible, including
older ones which don't support much CSS.
Small and medium sites need to do that, too. The author does not
know which ua will be used to access his site. Of course, no regular
in ciwa* has ever advocated trying to shut out old or unusual
user-agents. Quite the contrary, we argue -- rather consistently,
really -- that a page should be accessible to all. Perhaps your
arguement is more straw man than ad hominem.
Delivering ugly pages to them probably translates to lost sales,
etc.
Yeah, all the time, when my mother is shopping online, I hear her
say, "Oh! this site is ugly. Even though I found exactly what I
wanted, I think I'll leave this site and start a new search for a
prettier one."
If tables can be used to create a presentation which looks good
for old browsers and _still_ looks good for newer browsers, isn't
the choice obvious?
To you, maybe. I'm still not sure I see a coherent argument here.
CSS is slick and obviously a superior way to design for the web.
If all browsers supported it, and all the features actually
worked, and implementations were actually consistent, then
everyone would be flocking to it, IMO.
Because sites must look the same in all browsers, I suppose? Sorry,
I cannot agree. The problem with CSS is more likely the difficulty
in authoring with it. I've said this before: wider support for CSS
tables might have changed things, since it would have made so-called
wysiwyg editing with css easier to implement.
But that's not the case, and Real Sites (tm) realize this.

That's why it's wise to listen to the purist mantras
Who are these purists? Are they the ciwa* regulars? Or mere straw
men? My bogosity meter is definitely registering something.
and consider them (with regards to any technology, not just css,
because they exist for every topic) but then hedge them with a
reality check. Sometimes purists have blinders on, and are so
focused on the technology and having everything validate and line
up perfectly,
So, these are html purists who believe in pixel perfect layout? That
bogosity meter just pinned in the red.
that they miss the bigger picture - that these technologies are
worthless without being _used_ in the real world.


Yawn. Every few weeks, someone comes along with a "get in the real
world, standards are for suckers" line. Yours adds just about as
much to the debate as those which came before.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #19
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Brian wrote:
I think IE 3 might have been the first to make
some attempts at CSS, but it was very beta.


The way I heard the background, IE3 had been implemented to an early
draft of CSS. Not only that, it had done the usual MS stunt of
ignoring an important part of the spec, the one which said "if you
don't understand it, leave it alone", and instead had applied *their*
normal rule "if you don't understand it, make a wild guess at what the
author intended".

On top of that, the experimental CSS "support" was enabled by
default, instead of being something which a subset of consenting users
could choose to enable for themselves in order to try it out.

Fortunately, this apparent attempt to completely discredit CSS for all
time was a failure :-}

cheers
--
I'm afraid you have fallen into a well-known trap of understanding
what is going on here. -Phil Hazel on exim-users
Jul 20 '05 #20
On Mon, 21 Jun 2004, Matt Kruse wrote:
[Insert CSS purist "because they're not as smart as us" rant here]
You're excused...
CSS is slick and obviously a superior way to design for the web.
If only you really believed that, and demonstrated an understanding
what it meant.
If all browsers supported it,
A key point of the design of CSS is that it's *optional*. Visual
browsers don't need the cues that are meant for voice browsers, a
brailler don't need the colours that are meant for visual browsers,
font sizing can't do anything for character-cell browsers; but they
can all render the content in their respective ways.
and all the features actually worked,
In the sense that completely ignoring some CSS "features" is defined
to be "working" - since CSS is designed to be optional - the remaining
problems are those browsers which purport to support particular
features, but fail to conform to the specification. That -is- a
problem, but there are ways of working around it without causing too
much harm (see "hiding parts of the CSS from specific browsers" in
earlier threads here).
But that's not the case, and Real Sites (tm) realize this.
And so, instead, they use something that doesn't work, except by
happenstance in some range of browsing situations - but causes
demonstrable harm outside of that range.
That's why it's wise to listen to the purist mantras and consider
them (with regards to any technology, not just css, because they
exist for every topic) but then hedge them with a reality check.
I don't disagree with the principle. But the "reality" of
HTML/3.2-wannabe-DTP-HTML is no more "real", based as it is on a
paradigm learned from glossy printing, than are techniques which were
purpose-designed for communicating content to a wide range of
fundamentally different presentation situations.

Or would you have us still carving hieroglyphs on stone columns, since
it's -the- technology to have proved itself by the test of time?
Sometimes purists have blinders on, and are so focused on the
technology and having everything validate and line up perfectly,


And sometimes critics will clutch at any straw to beat the opposition
with. To mix a metaphor.

Personal opinion: validation is a valuable tool in the toolset. It
doesn't guarantee a good web page design, any more than a structural
engineer can guarantee stunning architecture. But stunning
architecture without competent structural engineering brings its own
problems.
Jul 20 '05 #21
Brian wrote:
Yawn.


*shrugs*

;)

--
Matt Kruse
Javascript Toolbox: http://www.JavascriptToolbox.com/
Jul 20 '05 #22
Brian wrote:
Barry Pearson wrote:
BenOne© wrote:

A friend built the Australian Government Revenue Office
website, and he said they were told that 95% of users use IE,
so they didn't worry too much about other browsers. I don't
think they used any CSS because IE is so standards
non-compliant.


Every version of IE from IE 5 onwards, (and probably earlier
ones, but I can't be sure), supports sufficient CSS for full use
of CSS for just about everything.


AIUI, IE 4 is roughly on par with Netscape 4 (shudder) in terms of
css, uh, "support." I think IE 3 might have been the first to make
some attempts at CSS, but it was very beta. This is gleaned from
comments in ciwa*, not from personal experience, so take it with a
grain of salt.


I think that is about right. (I recently had a discussion about some of my
tableless-pages with someone who still uses IE 4. They were readable, but
badly distorted). A useful resource is:
http://www.blooberry.com/indexdot/cs...key/syntax.htm

My reading, though, is that fewer people now use IE 4 than NN4, presumably
because MS gave them something better to move to. (At release, IE 5 was seen
to be a good step forward in CSS support. I don't think its problems were so
evident until later). So it tends to be NN4 that people worry about, or decide
not to worry about.

There is no plausible case for blaming IE for not using CSS at all. I have
talked to someone who uses a browser that doesn't support CSS at all, but any
such person has to accept that many web sites won't still be using <font>,
etc, and so they will not be seeing it as intended.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #23
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Brian wrote:
I think IE 3 might have been the first to make
some attempts at CSS, but it was very beta.


The way I heard the background, IE3 had been implemented to an early
draft of CSS. Not only that, it had done the usual MS stunt of
ignoring an important part of the spec, the one which said "if you
don't understand it, leave it alone", and instead had applied *their*
normal rule "if you don't understand it, make a wild guess at what the
author intended".

[snip]

Yes, it must have been early. According to the resource below, a version of
IE3 supported CSS in July 1996, while CSS1 became a recommendation in December
1996.
http://www.blooberry.com/indexdot/history/ie.htm

Here is an early draft (December 1995). Note "We encourage programmers and
authors to start experimenting with style sheets"! Perhaps MS took that
literally at that time. I don't think that this version had the bit about "...
leave it alone". The draft didn't have the "forward compatible parsing"
section.
http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-css1-951209.html

A potential problem, but I don't know what difference it would make, is that
parts of the above draft were based on features in HTML 3.0. It is a bit
surprising that it worked at all! But, would Netscape have got really
interested in CSS if IE3 hadn't set a precedent? Was a poor implementation
better than none?

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #24
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
There is no plausible case for blaming IE for not using CSS at all.
I have talked to someone who uses a browser that doesn't support CSS
at all, but any such person has to accept that many web sites won't
still be using <font>,
<font> doesn't do a damned thing in lynx, which is the text-mode
browser that I normally use (rather than w3m or links or emacs-w3, I
mean) when graphical browsing is impractical.
etc, and so they will not be seeing it as intended.


Depends what you mean by "as intended". I "intend" my pages to be
flexible enough to adapt to different browsing situations; so "as
intended" does not mean "as seen by me on my particular browser".

ttfn

--
I'm afraid you have fallen into a well-known trap of understanding
what is going on here. -Phil Hazel on exim-users
Jul 20 '05 #25


Jonas Smithson wrote:

2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/index is certainly not about coding
practices and they have some time ago changed their page layout to use
CSS instead of tables.

But note that I just mention it as you asked for examples, I do not
consider that site well done for many reasons, neither their HTML markup
nor their CSS validates, it is served with some dated document type
causing Mozilla to render it in quirks mode, they throw a simple
JavaScript if (!document.getElementById) check at the browser to send it
to http://espn.go.com/browserupgrade.html.
Netscape's DevEdge site even featured an interview with one of the site
designers
http://devedge.netscape.com/viewsour...-interview/01/
http://devedge.netscape.com/viewsour...-interview/02/
proudly presenting the site as standards compliant while you then find
statements like

when you have a site like ours which dynamically writes out a lot of
content, uses third-party statistical tracking, makes liberal use of
Flash, and offers complex and flexible advertising modules, validation
is simply a pie in the sky

and if you look at their JavaScript you can easily see that they simply
don't know about escaping a closing tag when it is output with
document.write (e.g. document.write('<\/p>')) to have it validate.

Still, it is an example of a commercial site using CSS for page layout.

--

Martin Honnen
http://JavaScript.FAQTs.com/

Jul 20 '05 #26
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:

[snip]
etc, and so they will not be seeing it as intended.


Depends what you mean by "as intended". I "intend" my pages to be
flexible enough to adapt to different browsing situations; so "as
intended" does not mean "as seen by me on my particular browser".


It means "as intended by the author". (Who else? I suppose "as intended by the
web site owner").

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #27
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
I don't think that this version had the bit about "...
leave it alone". The draft didn't have the "forward compatible parsing"
section.
http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-css1-951209.html
I can't contradict you on that evidence, but my best recollection of
early discussions was that this principle was understood; maybe they
took it too much for granted, and omitted to spell it out in the spec.

Could be that IE3 demonstrated the need for saying it explicitly?!?
A potential problem, but I don't know what difference it would make,
is that parts of the above draft were based on features in HTML 3.0.
It is a bit surprising that it worked at all!
CSS worked fine with HTML/2.0, and still does, if you're zen enough to
accept the limitations (no "class" attributes !).
But, would Netscape have got really interested in CSS if IE3 hadn't
set a precedent?
Which precedent? I'd say that Arena browser set the precedent; but
maybe you're restricting your attention to something that was on the
"market", for whatever value of the term "market" one can really apply
to a browser. Curiously, the Arena FAQ (last changed Feb 1997) says:

| Arena's support for style sheets has not been keeping up with the
| specification, and we encourage you to use some of the other clients
| that support CSS.

- but omits to mention which ones it has in mind...
Was a poor implementation better than none?


An incomplete but accurate implementation would surely have been
better than a botched attempt at a complete implementation. But we
weren't given a choice, were we?

You'll have read http://www.w3.org/Style/LieBos2e/history/ of course.
Jul 20 '05 #28
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:

[snip]
But, would Netscape have got really interested in CSS if IE3 hadn't
set a precedent? [snip] Was a poor implementation better than none?


An incomplete but accurate implementation would surely have been
better than a botched attempt at a complete implementation. But we
weren't given a choice, were we?

You'll have read http://www.w3.org/Style/LieBos2e/history/ of course.


Yes, of course! It was the basis for my statements above. In particular the
following:

"The CSS saga is not complete without a section on browsers. Had it not been
for the browsers, CSS would have remained a lofty proposal of only academic
interest. The first commercial browser to support CSS was Microsoft's Internet
Explorer 3 which was released in August 1996. At that point, the CSS1
specification had not yet become a W3C Recommendation and discussions within
the HTML ERB were to result in changes that Microsoft developers, led by Chris
Wilson, could not foresee. IE3 reliably supports most of the color,
background, font and text properties, but does not implement much of the box
model.

"The next browser to announce support was Netscape's Navigator, version 4.0.
Since its inception Netscape had been sceptical towards style sheets, and the
company's first implementation turned out to be a half-hearted attempt to stop
Microsoft from claiming to be more standards-compliant than themselves. The
Netscape implementation supports a broad range of features - for example,
floating elements - but the Netscape developers did not have time to fully
test all the features which are supposedly supported. The result is that many
CSS properties cannot be used in Navigator 4."

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #29
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004 19:42:18 +0100, "Barry Pearson"
<ne**@childsupportanalysis.co.uk> wrote:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
But, would Netscape have got really interested in CSS
if IE3 hadn't set a precedent?
Was a poor implementation better than none?

This article may be of interest?
http://css.nu/articles/About-JSSS.html
You'll have read http://www.w3.org/Style/LieBos2e/history/

Yes, of course! It was the basis for my statements...
That is the official "sweet" version of past CSS history.

The following is fact directly from "the horses" mouth.
(I was there and this is what I heard on the spot)

During some informal talks at the WWW meeting in Amsterdam a few years
back, Chris Wilson clearly stated that he was the one that single
handedly wrote the CSS code into MSIE3; and moved on to make his excuses
that the very flawed result was due to him working from an earlier draft
of the CSS1 spec.

Later in the evening of the same day I was at dinner together with
Haakon and a selected few other CSS gurus. I brought up this statement
from Chris and got a clear comment from Haakon that he thought that
Chris "defense" did not really hold up for examination.

According to Haakon only few changes and additions was made to CSS1
between the draft that Chris used and what was to become the CSS1
recommendation later on.

Most especially, the definition of the em unit was clear and stable
since long time back and did not change into the final spec, still Chris
found reason to write code into IE3 that interpreted 1em as 1px. In
general, relative font sizing was basically impossible in IE3, Chris
either did not understand the concept or took the easy way out by some
reason.
...IE3 reliably supports most of the color,
background, font and text properties...
That is one very big overstatement, if you ask me.
"The next browser to announce support was Netscape's Navigator,
version 4.0. Since its inception Netscape had been sceptical
towards style sheets


Well, NS brought attribute based presentation to some (disputable)
heights, they also "invented" Java script (but not the concept of client
side scripting of course, Pei Wei and his 'Viola' browser gets the full
credit of that [1]).

I'd say it was more or less natural for the guys at NS to try to build a
new presentation system on what they already had available.

The NS JSSS proposal started late in time, that's true, but given the
names associated with that proposal I have no doubt about the level of
commitment to the task.

JSSS fell on the requirement to keep client side scripting activated if
styling was required. CSS otoh was a descriptive language only, did not
require client side _execution_ of downloaded code and could as a result
be seen as a much user safe way for an author to suggest styling of his
document.

NS fell too; and thanks to what happened after the so called "MSIE wins
the browser market claim", we now have Mozilla as the "real thing".

A sysadmin that blocks Java script can still allow CSS to get through
without jeopardizing the inner safety of his network. [2]
There is no notation of "conditional execution of code" in CSS and that
is exactly what makes CSS safe, as opposed to client side executable
code.

[1] http://www.xcf.berkeley.edu/~wei/viola/violaHome.html

[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
guys starting to examine the loop holes. You can not
even leave CSS switched on in your browser in fear of
new types of viruses on the net. Please God, take whatever
is left of this activity at W3C to your bosom for good.

--
Rex
Jul 20 '05 #30
Barry Pearson wrote:
.... And it is also easier, perhaps, to run a range of
different browsers on your system, for example
multiple versions of IE, for testing purposes....


Sorry if this is slightly off-topic, but you've touched on an issue
that has been driving me slightly batty...

Testing has been a definite issue for me in constructing CSS,
especially CSS-P. Currently I routinely test in three browsers: Win
IE6, Win NS6, and Mac IE5; and sometimes also in Mac NS7. (I've given
up on NS4, may it rot in hell.) I'd like to also test in Windows IE5 or
maybe IE5.5 (which is more common?) but a guy who knows more about
Windows than I do told me to forget it. He said it's either impossible
or very difficult to get more than one version of IE running on the
same Windows box, even if you don't try to run them at the same time.
(I've had no problem running more than one version of Netscape, even
simultaneously, on both my PC and my Mac -- I suppose because it's not
as tightly bound to the OS as WinIE is.)

My PC uses Windows 2000 Pro, BTW. Can you give me any information, or
point me somewhere, that would help me run more than one test version
of IE on a PC? That would greatly increase my incentive to use more CSS
-- right now I can switch the box model of IE6 to "standards mode"
(more or less) using a DTD, but I've read that there's no way to get
WinIE5 to follow spec on box widths using a DTD switch. I've read of
some hacks/workarounds for the box model in IE5 but I'm reluctant to
trust them unless I can test them in my actual layouts.

Thanks much!
Jul 20 '05 #31
Jonas Smithson wrote:
Barry Pearson wrote:
.... And it is also easier, perhaps, to run a range of
different browsers on your system, for example
multiple versions of IE, for testing purposes....
[snip] My PC uses Windows 2000 Pro, BTW. Can you give me any information, or
point me somewhere, that would help me run more than one test version
of IE on a PC? That would greatly increase my incentive to use more
CSS -- right now I can switch the box model of IE6 to "standards mode"
(more or less) using a DTD, but I've read that there's no way to get
WinIE5 to follow spec on box widths using a DTD switch. I've read of
some hacks/workarounds for the box model in IE5 but I'm reluctant to
trust them unless I can test them in my actual layouts.


I'm not sure exactly where I got IE 5 from, but it may have been here:
http://www.zeit.ca/mozie/
Or, more likely, here:
http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/32bit/5.01_SP2

I just unzipped it into a folder, and it ran. It didn't reconfigure the
system, it just used the existing IE 6 options. I use just IE 5 (in addition
to IE 6), but others use a wider variety. I've been using it successfully
since last December. It is very illuminating.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #32
Jonas Smithson wrote:
Barry Pearson wrote:
.... And it is also easier, perhaps, to run a range of
different browsers on your system, for example
multiple versions of IE, for testing purposes....


My PC uses Windows 2000 Pro, BTW. Can you give me any information, or
point me somewhere, that would help me run more than one test version
of IE on a PC?


Joe Maddalone is your man. Check out the following article

http://www.insert-title.com/web_desi...s/dev/multi_IE

It's really pretty easy . . .

Of course, I couldn't remember the web address offhand, so a quick
Google for <multiple ie one machine> pointed me in the right direction .
.. . ;)

P
Jul 20 '05 #33
Jan Roland Eriksson wrote:
On Tue, 22 Jun 2004 19:42:18 +0100, "Barry Pearson"
<ne**@childsupportanalysis.co.uk> wrote:
Alan J. Flavell wrote:

On Tue, 22 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
But, would Netscape have got really interested in CSS
if IE3 hadn't set a precedent?
Was a poor implementation better than none?
This article may be of interest?
http://css.nu/articles/About-JSSS.html
You'll have read http://www.w3.org/Style/LieBos2e/history/

Yes, of course! It was the basis for my statements...


That is the official "sweet" version of past CSS history.

The following is fact directly from "the horses" mouth.
(I was there and this is what I heard on the spot)

[snip of the insider's version]

Thanks for that. But I don't think it necessarily contradicts the suggestion
(or question) above, that perhaps IE3 set a useful precedent.

Alan hinted (with a smiley) that it was an attempt to discredit CSS for all
time. But how could it do that? I believe that, at the time, IE was not the
dominant browser. That was still NS. And NS had implemented its own scheme,
then put that forward to W3C. How would MS have benefitted by discrediting W3C
or CSS at that time? How would it have helped MS achieve its ambitions?

What MS did was a sensible tactic that is often used by the non-dominant
supplier - use "open standards", and make a virtue out of it. You get some
kudos, and the chance to gang-up on the dominant supplier. (I worked in the
"Open Systems Group" of an IT company that did exactly this, to help compete
with IBM & SNA!)
http://www.quirksmode.org/index.html...s/history.html

At the time that IE3 released its (poor) implementation of CSS1, in
July/August 1996, what credibility did W3C have in the world? How many
recommendations had they published? In fact, how many W3C-originated
specifications of any kind, even draft specifications, had been built into any
non-W3C browser up to that time? I suspect the answer to those is "few if
any". If so, then perhaps some sort of endorsement by MS was useful. Which
were the first such examples?

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #34
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
Alan hinted (with a smiley) that it was an attempt to discredit CSS
for all time.
By saying "this apparent attempt" I'm referring to what was visible
externally; I don't impute any intention of malice to the author.

I had *hoped* to express that sufficiently outrageously that it
wouldn't be taken seriously! But whatever Chris's good intentions in
implementing some CSS1, it was IMHO a significant error of judgment to
have the experimental stylesheet support enabled by default at that
stage without consulting the user.

But it started us all off with finding ways of hiding good CSS from
this or that bad browser - which stood us in good stead in the
meantime, hmmm?
How would MS have benefitted by discrediting W3C
or CSS at that time? How would it have helped MS achieve its ambitions?


Presumably they would have implemented their own box model, thus
ensuring that any pages designed by non-specialists to look good on IE
would come out badly on other browsers. Oh, wait - that sounds a
familiar scenario.

But as you hinted, they only got away with that by quickly becoming
"the dominant supplier". Other suppliers then have to square the
circle by not only implementing the standards, but also finding out
what the dominant supplier's quirks are and trying to emulate them.
Sad, really.
Jul 20 '05 #35
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote: [snip] But it started us all off with finding ways of hiding good CSS from
this or that bad browser - which stood us in good stead in the
meantime, hmmm?

[snip]

Perhaps you have a view on this:

There is an IE-specific conditional capability within comments in the head of
HTML documents. So it is possible to make versions of IE see some HTML-like
stuff that won't be seen by other browsers. (OK, you knew that).

What this appears to mean is that, where (say) an IE5-specific bit of CSS is
useful, perhaps to change the box-values, or an IE6-specific bit of CSS is
useful, perhaps to correct a float-bug, it is possible to handle this via such
a conditional. The CSS can be embedded, or linked to. This appears to be a
clean way of correcting an IE-specific bug or non-compliance. Instead of a
hack that is in the CSS seen by all browsers, the correction is where it is
intended to be seen, and is only seen, by the browsers concerned. Up to now,
I've only used this for experimental pages. But it appears to be a better way
of fixing IE-specific problems.

And, to be honest, I wish all other browsers had this capability! IE isn't the
only one with problems. I would prefer to have a standard no-hack CSS that
would work with any totally-compliant browser, then specific add-ons for
specific browsers, rather than have mixed-hack CSSs, which is what I normally
end up with.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #36

"Jan Roland Eriksson" <jr****@newsguy.com> wrote in message
news:iu********************************@4ax.com...
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
guys starting to examine the loop holes. You can not
even leave CSS switched on in your browser in fear of
new types of viruses on the net. Please God, take whatever
is left of this activity at W3C to your bosom for good.


Even though the hooks to code are specified in CSS, the code itself is still
JS, and if you've got your JS turned off it still ought not to run, without
your also having to turn off CSS.

Jul 20 '05 #37
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
Perhaps you have a view on this:
Perhaps I do... Based on your usual plan, you've already worked out
what it's going to be...
What this appears to mean is that, where (say) an IE5-specific bit of CSS is
useful, perhaps to change the box-values, or an IE6-specific bit of CSS is
useful, perhaps to correct a float-bug, it is possible to handle this via such
a conditional. The CSS can be embedded, or linked to. This appears to be a
clean way of correcting an IE-specific bug or non-compliance. Instead of a
hack that is in the CSS seen by all browsers, the correction is where it is
intended to be seen, and is only seen, by the browsers concerned. Up to now,
I've only used this for experimental pages. But it appears to be a better way
of fixing IE-specific problems.

And, to be honest, I wish all other browsers had this capability!
You've identified the problem, but you're asking for the wrong
solution IMNSHO. If the browser isn't conforming to the spec, then it
should be corrected, rather than providing additional handles for
document authors to work-around the misfeature.

On the other hand, if they implement some vendor extension that is in
conformance with the letter and spirit of the specification, then
other browsers can simply disregard it, and all will be well.
IE isn't the only one with problems.
True enough. But the cure seems worse than the disease. Soon we'd
have megabytes of conditional code extruded by [insert favourite
webpage extruder here] for every conceivable browser, just in order to
display a simple 5-line news item.
I would prefer to have a standard no-hack CSS that
would work with any totally-compliant browser,


Yeah, and how are you going to work-around the inevitable bugs in the
conditional workaround code, riddle me that? Sorry, but this looks
like applying elastoplast over duct tape over hansaplast, instead of
healing the original wound.

The dominant vendor is /always/ a problem. Let's not take that as an
excuse to create problems with every vendor. Minority vendors can't
afford to be nonstandard[1].

ttfn

[1] yes, I said it before: they need to steer a precarious course
between doing what the spec requires, and imitating the bugs on the
majority vendor's offering. That's the reality, whatever one might
wish. But I reckon that content authors *can* work within that
framework, provided they're not getting hamstrung by unrealistic
demands for pixel-exact reproductions; the wide variations between
presentation situations are more radical than the relatively modest
variations between those CSS constructs which can be realistically
applied in a WWW context. But you've heard this litany before.
Jul 20 '05 #38
Harlan Messinger wrote:
"Jan Roland Eriksson" wrote...
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
guys starting to examine the loop holes. You can not
even leave CSS switched on in your browser in fear of
new types of viruses on the net. Please God, take whatever
is left of this activity at W3C to your bosom for good.


Even though the hooks to code are specified in CSS, the code itself is still
JS, and if you've got your JS turned off it still ought not to run, without
your also having to turn off CSS.


But what will admins do when they want to block all js? Right now, they
can block js via a firewall while permitting text/css. If this is
implemented, would they have to then block all css?

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #39
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
Perhaps you have a view on this:
Perhaps I do... Based on your usual plan, you've already worked out
what it's going to be...


I hadn't a clue what your view would be!

[snip] You've identified the problem, but you're asking for the wrong
solution IMNSHO. If the browser isn't conforming to the spec, then it
should be corrected, rather than providing additional handles for
document authors to work-around the misfeature.
Once a version of a browser is in the field, how can all instances of it be
corrected? How can all IE 5 in the field be corrected? Or all Opera 7.23?

When I worked for an IT company, we could make a some rules, for example that
we would only support versions for so long. Then we would expect our users to
catch up. What we meant was that users could no longer expect support. But the
web isn't like that. We can't make such rules, if we respect our audience.

MS introduced IE 6, which fixed the IE 5 box-model flaws. So, can all authors
now ignore IE 5 box-model flaws because MS has corrected IE? Or consider
similar questions about Mozilla. Or Opera. No! Demonstrably, correcting a
fault in a browser doesn't ensure that authors don't need to cater for those
faults. Instead, we get another browser that we have to cater for!

[snip]
IE isn't the only one with problems.


True enough. But the cure seems worse than the disease. Soon we'd
have megabytes of conditional code extruded by [insert favourite
webpage extruder here] for every conceivable browser, just in order to
display a simple 5-line news item.


I suspect we already have that. They are browser hacks, and appear to exist in
lots of CSSs worldwide. But they are currently mixed in with the rest of the
CSS, not separated out. I would prefer a way to have them clearly separated
out.

I was prompted by the following from the "Style" section at W3C. See the CSS,
apparently by Bert Bos, who hardly needs an introduction here. It isn't really
a surprise that such an expert on CSS has lots of hacks in his CSS. The more
you push CSS in your work, the more hacks you find useful/necessary.
http://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/figures.html
I would prefer to have a standard no-hack CSS that
would work with any totally-compliant browser,


Yeah, and how are you going to work-around the inevitable bugs in the
conditional workaround code, riddle me that? Sorry, but this looks
like applying elastoplast over duct tape over hansaplast, instead of
healing the original wound.


I already put corrections for IE 5 in my CSS. There is the "lack of
margin-left/right: auto" problem. And box-model problems. So I fix them in the
basic CSS. I sometimes use a hack that puts the wrong value in for IE 5, then
uses a "voice-family" parsing-trick to make IE 5 exit from the rule, then put
the right value in. Yeuk! And I have line-height hacks to correct the IE 6
"peekaboo" bug. Etc.

No force on the planet is going to make those browsers go away and become
unimportant in the near future. Why are people still using IE 5 when MS has
made IE 6 available? Indeed, why are some people still using IE 4, and
criticising some of my pages because of how it renders them? MS fixed those
bugs, yet they persist in the field.
The dominant vendor is /always/ a problem. Let's not take that as an
excuse to create problems with every vendor. Minority vendors can't
afford to be nonstandard[1].

[snip]

But, of course, they are sometimes nonstandard! It isn't just IE that causes
problems. There have been recent posts about Opera, and I too have had
problems with Opera 7.23. Quite often I can get IE 5, IE 6, Firefox 0.8,
Netscape 7.1, to agree, while Opera 7.23 does something else entirely,
apparently as non-compliance. They are not emulating IE problems - they are
introducing their own unique problems. Have a look at the W3C CSS I identified
above. It mentions Konqueror & Safari. There is a "be nice to Opera" hack.
Everyone knows how to hide stuff from NN4.

The problem of using browser-specific property/value pairs already exists, and
is tackled, in vast numbers of CSSs world-wide. I would prefer to have a
cleaner way of tackling it.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #40
Brian <us*****@julietremblay.com.invalid> wrote:
Harlan Messinger wrote:
"Jan Roland Eriksson" wrote...
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
guys starting to examine the loop holes. You can not
even leave CSS switched on in your browser in fear of
new types of viruses on the net. Please God, take whatever
is left of this activity at W3C to your bosom for good.


Even though the hooks to code are specified in CSS, the code itself is still
JS, and if you've got your JS turned off it still ought not to run, without
your also having to turn off CSS.


But what will admins do when they want to block all js? Right now, they
can block js via a firewall while permitting text/css. If this is
implemented, would they have to then block all css?


I see what you mean, as far as the syntax that embeds script into the
CSS property declaration is concerned. That could be avoided in favor
of requiring behaviors to be served from separate .HTC files, with
which a distinctive MIME type could be associated.

--
Harlan Messinger
Remove the first dot from my e-mail address.
Veuillez ôter le premier point de mon adresse de courriel.
Jul 20 '05 #41
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
Once a version of a browser is in the field, how can all instances of it be
corrected? How can all IE 5 in the field be corrected? Or all Opera 7.23?
Right. So how do you propose to add your conditional comment handling
extension to all the instances of IE5 or Opera 7 which are out there?
When I worked for an IT company, we could make a some rules, for example that
we would only support versions for so long. Then we would expect our users to
catch up. What we meant was that users could no longer expect support. But the
web isn't like that. We can't make such rules, if we respect our audience.
Do I hear echoes of Dr.John here?
No force on the planet is going to make those browsers go away and
become unimportant in the near future.
So how do you propose to "force" conditional comment support into
those which don't have it? If any effort is to be expended, then I'd
rather see it expended on correcting the bugs, than on erecting yet
more scaffolding onto which the bugs could be elevated to "legacy
support" status.
Why are people still using IE 5 when MS has made IE 6 available?
Why indeed. IE4 (hello Dr.John) is probably so old that no hacker can
be bothered to exploit its security weaknesses any more; but IE5 and
5.5 are demonstrably insecure and in need of attention. Server hits
(with all appropriate disclaimers) seem to show that MSIE users are
more inclined to upgrade than are NN4.* users. Since NN4 doesn't
penetrate their OS to the extent that the Operating System Component
does, there's some logic in that.
Indeed, why are some people still using IE 4, and
criticising some of my pages because of how it renders them?


Sounds as if you -are- playing your part in the concordat, and they
aren't playing theirs. I'd have to recommend
http://www.codesmiths.com/shed/things/clueiron/ in such a situation.
They shouold understand (as you undoubtedly do) that access to the
content is paramount; but the cosmetics only come out right if both
partners play their proper part. Could almost be a paradigm for real
life, what?

Jul 20 '05 #42
Alan J. Flavell wrote:
On Wed, 23 Jun 2004, Barry Pearson wrote:
Once a version of a browser is in the field, how can all instances
of it be corrected? How can all IE 5 in the field be corrected? Or
all Opera 7.23?


Right. So how do you propose to add your conditional comment handling
extension to all the instances of IE5 or Opera 7 which are out there?


I simply said "And, to be honest, I wish all other browsers had this
capability! IE isn't the only one with problems". Obviously, I can't use this
method with browsers that don't support it. For them, I will have to find
hacks, and put them into my CSS. As many other people do. A pity.

MS have provided a simple & clean way for me to cater for IE deficiencies. I
don't appear to need such hacks for IE, even though there are some available,
(such as the "voice-family" hack for IE 5). The hacks would exist whether or
not IE had the conditional capability. I simply have the opportunity with IE
to move them to a better location. A pity I can't move hacks for other
browsers to better locations. Good for IE.
When I worked for an IT company, we could make a some rules, for
example that we would only support versions for so long. Then we
would expect our users to catch up. What we meant was that users
could no longer expect support. But the web isn't like that. We
can't make such rules, if we respect our audience.


Do I hear echoes of Dr.John here?


Uh?
No force on the planet is going to make those browsers go away and
become unimportant in the near future.


So how do you propose to "force" conditional comment support into
those which don't have it? If any effort is to be expended, then I'd
rather see it expended on correcting the bugs, than on erecting yet
more scaffolding onto which the bugs could be elevated to "legacy
support" status.


Of course I want bugs corrected! But how will that ensure that all relevant
browsers in the field are corrected? And if they are not, how has that helped
me, as an author? I have to cater for the significant instances among my
audience.

Suppose NN4 had provided such a conditional capability. I wonder how much
grief & workaround action would have been avoided as a result? I am not
actually proposing a specific standard for browser conditionals. If you or
someone else said "this should be in the CSS, not in the HTML", I would
examine the consequences, and probably agree. After all, in effect the
well-known NN4 trick *is* in the CSS - using the @include feature. So why not
the others too?

The point I am making is that correcting bugs doesn't solve the author's
problem. I am talking about solutions to the author's problem.
Why are people still using IE 5 when MS has made IE 6 available?


Why indeed. IE4 (hello Dr.John) is probably so old that no hacker can
be bothered to exploit its security weaknesses any more; but IE5 and
5.5 are demonstrably insecure and in need of attention. Server hits
(with all appropriate disclaimers) seem to show that MSIE users are
more inclined to upgrade than are NN4.* users. Since NN4 doesn't
penetrate their OS to the extent that the Operating System Component
does, there's some logic in that.

[snip]

How does that affect the above logic? MS released IE 6 a long time ago. But
lots of people are still using IE 5. So their release of IE 6 didn't resolve
the box-model problem as far as authors are concerned.

I don't presume to know why users do what they do, or use the browsers that
they do. I simply want to deliver the best pages I can to them. If they use IE
5, for some reason, in spite of better products from MS, then I want them to
view my pages favourably.

--
Barry Pearson
http://www.Barry.Pearson.name/photography/
http://www.BirdsAndAnimals.info/
http://www.ChildSupportAnalysis.co.uk/
Jul 20 '05 #43
Harlan Messinger wrote:
Brian wrote:
Harlan Messinger wrote:
"Jan Roland Eriksson" wrote...

[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
guys starting to examine the loop holes.

Even though the hooks to code are specified in CSS, the code
itself is still JS, and if you've got your JS turned off it still
ought not to run, without your also having to turn off CSS.


But what will admins do when they want to block all js? Right now,
they can block js via a firewall while permitting text/css. If this
is implemented, would they have to then block all css?


That could be avoided in favor of requiring behaviors to be
served from separate .HTC files, with which a distinctive
MIME type could be associated.


That would make sense, script-css in a separate file, with its own mime
type, but that is quite different than what the w3c are proposing. Then
again, do we really need all that complexity? Why not add new
pseudo-classes? e.g., ::active for any element instead of introducing
onclick.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #44
Brian <us*****@julietremblay.com.invalid> wrote:
Harlan Messinger wrote:
Brian wrote:
Harlan Messinger wrote:

"Jan Roland Eriksson" wrote...

>[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-becss-19990804
> If this draft or any of its siblings makes it as a
> recommendation we will instantly find a cader of nasty
> guys starting to examine the loop holes.

Even though the hooks to code are specified in CSS, the code
itself is still JS, and if you've got your JS turned off it still
ought not to run, without your also having to turn off CSS.

But what will admins do when they want to block all js? Right now,
they can block js via a firewall while permitting text/css. If this
is implemented, would they have to then block all css?


That could be avoided in favor of requiring behaviors to be
served from separate .HTC files, with which a distinctive
MIME type could be associated.


That would make sense, script-css in a separate file, with its own mime
type, but that is quite different than what the w3c are proposing. Then
again, do we really need all that complexity? Why not add new
pseudo-classes? e.g., ::active for any element instead of introducing
onclick.


The principal, if not only, reason is, I suppose, to permit the
appearance of one or more elements to change in response to
interaction with another element.

--
Harlan Messinger
Remove the first dot from my e-mail address.
Veuillez ôter le premier point de mon adresse de courriel.
Jul 20 '05 #45
On Mon, 21 Jun 2004 16:21:43 GMT, Jonas Smithson
<sm************@REMOVETHISboardermail.com> wrote or quoted :
1. If, as the regulars in this newsgroup believe, CSS is clearly
superior to table code for defining page layout, why are *none* of
these sites relying on CSS for that purpose?


Because most people learn css by experimenting and by looking at
other's css. If there are not lots of examples to copy from, people
are not even aware of the possibility. If they are aware, they back
off waiting for other sites to implement it first worrying browser
compatibility problems.

--
Canadian Mind Products, Roedy Green.
Coaching, problem solving, economical contract programming.
See http://mindprod.com/jgloss/jgloss.html for The Java Glossary.
Jul 20 '05 #46
Martin Honnen <ma*******@yahoo.de> wrote in message news:<40***********************@newsread4.arcor-online.net>...
Jonas Smithson wrote:

2. Can anybody provide links to any large commercial or institutional
sites (whose subject matter is not "coding practices") that *do* use
CSS to define their page geometry, so that I can look at their code?


Personally, I think this whole thread is great - discussion of minds
and how CSS is being used, should be used, can be used etc.

A UK perspective (perhaps):

Most large sites, particularly in the UK use portions of CSS1 & 2. The
further time advances, the more CSS seems to be used (I say this
because some larger sites are now using positional, opacity,
background elements etc).

The trouble is that technology progresses fast and companies no-matter
what the size have finite budgets and time available to implement
solutions. To add to this, the majority of developers experience is
based on HTML and smatterings of CSS (although it is growing - which
is good). They discover that CSS can do things HTML can't, which saves
time, bandwidth and money.

After talking to a number of colleagues about this issue, CSS is seen
as a tool in a toolbox, which is used, where neccessary and plausible
to help achieve the desired 'look' of a site/layout/page. The final
solution, dependent on the developers experience might include HTML,
CSS, Javascript, Flash etc in varying degrees. One *BIG* plus is that
CSS is seen as giving more control/accuracy with regard to layout and
design. I like that!

One fact which complicated the matter is that there are just too many
unknown variables about browser usage and therefore most sites are
table-based complimented again by varying degrees of CSS.

Moreover, tables can be used as an 'exacting' standard(using a
plethora of workarounds as you would expect) just as CSS can, but they
are more established and more acceptable by browsers in general.

Walled-gardens (intranets/extranets) are a different matter, where
access is internal to a company only - in many of these cases, ONE
browser is used as standard across a company/institution and
developers are free to exploit the supported elements of the chosen
browser. More often than not, in my experience this is usually IE5 or
IE5.5...but I have seen NN4 used.

Coders are happy to experiment with CSS, indeed I have seen such
experiments recently, but time is money and the powers that be are
often too scared to go with a complete CSS solution. A memorable
example being a primarily table-based site, with a multitude of
different stylesheets for different browsers.

However, in the last 12-18 months, there does seem to have been a
shift in the view that its good to separate the design from the
content and I can think of quite a few instances where, for better
control companies have a web-based product(built in tables), and CSS
controling more and more visual elements - colours, some tentative
positioning etc... but rarely have I seen the complete visual
experience controlled by CSS. Its often deemed too bleeding-edge.

One area of usage has been the ability to use CSS to define printable
versions of pages - that has grown, but the majority of sites still
have the familiar 'click here for a printable version'.

Bests
Nick.
Jul 20 '05 #47
Barry Pearson wrote:
I hope you accept that layout-tables are not deprecated. They will
be valid with Strict documents for decades to come.


Once again, you've shown that you do not understand what "valid" means
in HTML.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #48
JRS: In article <OxJBc.1151$4D4.1104@newsfe3-gui>, seen in news:comp.in
fosystems.www.authoring.stylesheets, Barry Pearson <news@childsupportana
lysis.co.uk> posted at Mon, 21 Jun 2004 22:44:45 :

I hope you accept that layout-tables are not deprecated. They will be valid
with Strict documents for decades to come.


They are a useful feature, not least because they are comparatively
simple to use.

ISTM is that the real objection is that TABLE should be used only for
material that is fundamentally tabular.

Therefore, ISTM that there should be (and that it would be easy in all
respects to add) a new mark-up GRID; it would behave visually just like
TABLE, but would not carry the same implication. It could use the
existing TD TH & TR, or new GD GH GR.

GRID would be particularly useful in laying out forms neatly.

--
© John Stockton, Surrey, UK. ?@merlyn.demon.co.uk Turnpike v4.00 MIME ©
Web <URL:http://www.uwasa.fi/~ts/http/tsfaq.html> -> Timo Salmi: Usenet Q&A.
Web <URL:http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/news-use.htm> : about usage of News.
No Encoding. Quotes before replies. Snip well. Write clearly. Don't Mail News.
Jul 20 '05 #49
Dr John Stockton wrote:
ISTM is that the real objection is that TABLE should be used only
for material that is fundamentally tabular.

Therefore, ISTM that there should be (and that it would be easy in
all respects to add) a new mark-up GRID; it would behave visually
just like TABLE, but would not carry the same implication.


And would not have much of a home in HTML, which is dominated by
semantic elements. With the exception of <big>, <small>, <i>, etc.,
HTML has very little to say about presentation and layout.

--
Brian (remove ".invalid" to email me)
http://www.tsmchughs.com/
Jul 20 '05 #50

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