Impossible CSS gripe #1

Wednesday 29 October 2003

I know there’s nothing to be done about this now (that’s why this is an impossible gripe), but I really wish the authors of CSS had either:

  1. Written the spec so that it was more understandable from the start, or
  2. Provided a reference implementation, or
  3. Provided an extensive test suite, with results specified.

As it is, we’re in a mess today, supporting a growing list of buggy implementations with horrific hacks like the high pass filter, mid pass filter, and so on. Try to understand Mark’s text sizing code, and you’ll see what I mean.

CSS is good, CSS is clean, the world will be a better place when CSS is done right. Lots of people will blame Microsoft, or Netscape, or some other browser author, for getting it wrong, and shrug it off as “just bugs”. But let’s face it: none of these browser authors wanted to implement CSS incorrectly (paranoid fantasies about Microsoft notwithstanding). If they had known their browser had it wrong, they would have fixed it before shipping. The bugs are there because people didn’t understand the spec, or it was ambiguously written to begin with, or because they didn’t have an exhaustive test suite to run in their browser.

Comments

[gravatar]
Simon Willison 11:22 AM on 29 Oct 2003

I'm pretty sure I've seen references to work on a CSS 2.1 test suite (I think Hixie [ http://ln.hixie.ch/ ] may be working on one) but I agree, CSS would be in a much better state if one had been available from the beginning.

[gravatar]
freddyMac 5:42 PM on 29 Oct 2003

yo, these W3C guys are writing the specs faster than the browser authors can rev their products - it's a moving target...

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