Anne van Kesteren

Things that didn’t get as much attention as they deserve

Although I have both a weblog and link weblog there are still things that remain unpublished although I had plans to write about them. Here a collection of some of those things; I’ll try to make it more than just a link dump.

Did you know that ‘marking up’ entries sometimes takes more time then writing them?


  1. A bit of context to Tim Bray's comment.

    You remember “the PRE element doesn’t work” remarks in the comment section of this site? Indeed; hereby an apology to WordPress and its developers for blaming them on an XML design flaw.

    I'd forgotten about your troubles with this same issue. But, in debugging the problem with MovableType, I was eventually reduced to flipping the MIME-type of the page back-and-forth between text/html and application/xhtml+xml. Once it was clear that exactly the same code yielded different results, I was able to stop cursing MT's developers and delve into the XML Specification.

    Clearly, Bray and the other editors of the XML Specification were trying to make things easier for application developers, "Here, let me normalize that attribute-value for you!" The troubles this can cause application developers have only begun to be apparent.

    Posted by Jacques Distler at

  2. Combine the CSS3 Text Module with tablet PCs, and we'll have to start adding "this side up" arrows to our webpages.

    Posted by Sjoerd Visscher at

  3. I wonder if it is practical. Most mouses don't deal with horizontal scrolling, and people hate horizontal scrolling. The only media that are useful can only be print and projection.

    Posted by minghong at

  4. Technical remark: shouldn't your post be marked up as a list? It is slightly confusing to see paragraphs on different subjects following each other.

    I can't believe vertical text can be that hard. Surely in programming, it's easy to think of boxes and text flow just going in a different direction. The problem lies in that the web (and HTML) has been constructed for horizontal text and flow only. We may well have to rewrite our browsers from scratch, or apply some major hacks to the existing browser engines. But maybe people are already working on this behind the scenes. (A trip to Bugzilla might reveal this.)

    I hate to think about forms and vertical text though. How will they cope? Perhaps we should have a simple rule: NO VERTICAL TEXT AT ALL ALLOWED ON THE WEB. Is it really necessary? In Japanese, for instance, it was a traditional style derived from painting with brush strokes. This does not apply on the web. Unless of course there are languages that are solely written vertically, but even then, would the users not be able to adjust? (Sorry to be so eurocentric.) The web is not print, after all.

    Posted by Chris Hester at

  5. Note that CSS is not solely intended for the web and this is a real problem for some languages. Also, as mentioned, it is already used.

    Posted by Anne at

  6. It seems reasonable to me to normalize attributes and to keep whitespace in elements given that the former is considered to be less 'important' than the latter.

    Posted by bryan at

  7. @Chris: is it really neccesary to support ë, é, ä and all European non-interesting stuff like that? After all, the most spoken language on the web is English... who needs more than 256 ASCI characters? ^_^

    Posted by Frenzie at

  8. Hi Anne,

    We spent a long time building 'XForms in HTML', which as you rightly say, leads to documents that are often not valid, but you generally have no way of knowing that. However, of late we have been pushing everything through our Sidewinder Viewer, which validates documents first, before rendering them. At the moment it is very unforgiving, which does make it ideal for development work. Getting error messages that tell you that you have tried to use @bind with an ID that doesn't exist, or you have duplicate IDs on your case elements, is a real time-saver.

    But the most interesting thing is that the schemas it uses to validate against are XHTML+SVG+MathML+XForms. If you have the formsPlayer XForms processor, Adobe's SVG Viewer, and Design Science's MathML player installed, they will automatically be invoked on your document.

    Of course we're still working on things, but I think it indicates what is possible. And as so-called 'compound documents' become more common, I think this aspect will become increasingly important.

    All the best,


    Mark Birbeck

    Posted by Mark Birbeck at