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What about styles?

I know it's only v1 and I've read Joel's thoughts on getting products out the door, but hey...

I noticed that when I used the B and I styles, I actually get EM and STRONG. Yes! I think this sort of "I'll do it right even if the user doesn't know it" is the way products should work. I'd love to see more examples, like elipsis being replaced, m-dash and n-dash being insterted etc.

What I'm curious about now however is what you are thinking of doing for styles in the future? While the B I U selection is going to hit the target market for writing, I imagine you've put some thought into how to handle more complex styles in the future? I know I would love to see a complete list of HTML styles in the system, and I'd also like to be able to define my own (like superscript which does <SUP><SMALL> for instance).

Any chance you could wax philosophical on your thoughts here?

Maury Markowitz
Saturday, December 08, 2001

I don't like the use of <em> and <strong> because their rendering is supposed to be left up to the browser.  It happens that browsers translate them to italics and bold respectively, but will this always be the case? 

Then again, I've heard that <i> and <b> are deprecated. 

I'd rather use <i> and <b> because these describe exactly what I want to use when I use them.

Scott Carpenter
Saturday, December 08, 2001

I'm guessing that <i> and <b> are translated to <em> and <strong> because they are structural elements and are therefore more meaningful in a CMS. This is especially important for folks with disabilities who are forced to use tools like screen readers to access your content. Section 508 guidelines discourage the use of <i> and <b>. Perhaps the Fog Creek folks are just being good citizens.

Rhett Stansbury
Saturday, December 08, 2001

I don't see how <b> and <i> would be less friendly to those with disabilities than <strong> and <em>.  I don't know anything about reader software, but it seems to me it could just as effectively convey <b> and <i> to its users as <strong> and <em>.

I realize <b> and <i> are about presentation, and we're always trying to separate content from presentation, but to me they are such basic parts of writing that I'd like to specify exactly what I mean when I intend to use these two types of formatting.

Scott Carpenter
Saturday, December 08, 2001

Afraid I can't speak definitively about the subject--I'm simply regurgitating what I've heard elsewhere. What I do know is that <em> indicates emphasis and <strong> indicates stronger emphasis than <em>--information that is not necessarily conveyed by presentation markup. A better explanation of why that would be more useful to a disabled person (or any person for that matter) and the tools they use to surf the web could probably be found at <http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/> or other usability sites.

I should also probably refrain from guessing at Fog Creek's methodology and let them speak for themselves. So I'll shut-up now:-)

Rhett Stansbury
Saturday, December 08, 2001

Scott: the idea is that you should have both, and use the right one at the right time. In fact CityDesk is _not_ playing nice in that regard because it translates them all into EM and STRONG. That said it's likely that you want them, and not I or B, something on the order of 80% of the times.

So I'm happy that it does it this way now, but that just makes the whole topic all the more important. For those of us who plan to use CD in a non-newspaper-like setting having fine control over the styles (and macro-styles) is a definite bonus.

What I would like to see is every current HTML style in the menu. It would be OK to not have these on the toolbar, they are more "one off". I would also like a way to define macro-styles that insert several style tags at the same time. Finally I'd like to be able to define them in such a way that I can tell it what existing tags they can be applied to, in the case of adding class or style attributes to other tags (as in the case of align=top being applied to a table).

Most other systems have something like this. DreamWeaver has a very powerful system for instance. However they are univerally geeky, you end up with THEIR  styles in the menus and YOUR styles separated out into a floating window. Something that's fairly flexible yet still CityDesk-easy would be wonderful.

Maury Markowitz
Sunday, December 09, 2001

I'm perfectly happy with the use of em and strong. Harking to the topic name, though; I would dearly love more straightforward support for div and span elements (a visible dotted outline in "see whitespace" mode would be nice, as would a "see whitespace" mode) and a left-hand-side style bar for setting the class of such elements.

Garth Kidd
Sunday, December 09, 2001

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