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Wrappy Wordinghood

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Wrappy Wordinghood Reply with quote

So here I am, again, trying to size a web tutorial to fit my screen with Eclipse (IDE development environment) on the other side, and the author has seen fit to lay out his text with hard breaks, meaning if I narrow the width of my browser, the text simply scrolls off the screen rather than realigning.

The WYSIWYG crowd has been having its way with HTML ever since it was introduced. Anytime even the simplest script is offered as a means of communicating, the marketeers will deem it beyond the comprehension of the common man and set out to let you drag, drop and draw your way to layout hell.

You will get what you see, no doubt. But will your users? As someone who views websites on a variety of devices, from Android smartphone, to 10" netbook, to 17" laptop, to 32" LCD screen I say, no. The reason is you designers are not working up from the language, you're fighting the language to make it do what you think it should.

HTML. Hypertext Markup Language. The idea is you think in text, and it renders the layout for you. That's the automation. It knows how to layout the screen, you need only to adhere to its rules. If you want more control, you use CSS. What you don't do is put a bunch of unresizeable "carriage returns" with each and every line.

It's fascinating that this innovation in how we product text has been so sadly and wrongly used in the past 15 years.
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post. I think it could also go under the "first one is free" forum.

If I were programming screen faces these days, I would have a serious
problem, because I don't have a clear view and a consistent discipline
with regards to the best ways and constructs for laying out pages that
would be in a usable/preferred format for particular devices and settings.
I'd need a refresher course or two, at least.

I find that I use a lot of line-delimited text in emails, and in
posts on this website, for instance. I arrive at this practice
for specific reasons that I suspect are ultimately very similar
to the reasons you might prefer hard-break-less text. To get
the results I want, or to avoid the ones I don't hard breaks are
often preferred, in my experience.

Still, I'm not so happy about it either, and I'd be happy if I didn't
have those reasons to include hard breaks in my text, so there's

Meanwhile, your post gets me thinking along a slightly different line.
You ask the programmers to use HTML for marking up the text,
but aren't those hard breaks just another form of markup?

How about Carriage Return Friendly HyperText Markup
(CRFHTML)? This would be a recognition that
HTML is a layer built upon the pre-existing (and ongoing)
Carriage-Return Markup Language (CRML).

There's a few tricky bits. I immediately imagine at least 2 different
modes: 1) ignore single hard breaks, 2) use hard breaks as
clues or suggestions when displaying text and have the display
software reconfigure the layout under program control.

Having written a few programs where there was an attempt to
accommodate disparate screen geometries, I can understand
why, in many cases, page producers simply make entirely new
layouts for different display technologies, and do not attempt
to parametrize a single program to behave well in varying
environments and displays. Of course, being able to use a single
source for displaying information across different devices is
the gold standard. CRFHTML might be helpful toward that end.
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