"When you get right down to it, there is no good solution regarding font sizing on the Web today."
Eric Meyer appears to have extended an olive branch in Ian Hickson's direction after their recent volleys. He says that every typographical solution available to the web designer has its problems, and I am inclined to agree with him. He looks forward to the day when a downloadable font mechanism is available and popular. I think that it is important to understand that as long as there are different browser makers, there will be different browsers - along with all the associated aggravation. Only with extremely detailed and specific web standards could we hope to see browsers behaving predictably and identically. Part of me doesn't like that outcome, however much it would make my life easier.
I've altered the entry I made on the 25th to include a quote from Ian Hickson. This has been done purely as an experiment so that I can test out my new quotation-box-thingy. I haven't decided whether or not I'll keep it. I guess if it appears again, you'll know.
"I'm sorry, but I can't read 12px text from this distance."
I hadn't noticed, but before I posted yesterday on miniscule text, Ian Hickson had a few things to say about it as well. He basically berates designers who create web pages that use non-relative units of measurement when specifying font sizes. Eric Meyer then fired a volley back at him, quite correctly pointing out that in most cases a user can specify a font size preference in a user style sheet.
I think they are both correct. Designers should always use relative units wherever possible. Since this is not always the case (or possible), Eric is right to remind us that users still have options open to them. Many browsers now offer resizing options that solve the problem anyway, although I think Opera goes too far with its zoom tool.
I have noticed that almost everywhere I go on the world wide web, I find that sites have been created with absolutely miniscule default text sizes. Even respected giants of the web design world like Jeffrey Zeldman and Joshua Davis produce work that, at least on a Windows platform, looks really small. One site in particular that drives me crazy is Kaliber10000 (also known as K10k). The design is absolutely incredible, but the small font size being used means that glyphs are dwarfed by medium-sized subatomic particles. The pixel-perfect nature of many sites means that the text cannot be resized without breaking layouts, as in the case of K10k.
After a heated debate on the css foundations mailing list, I decided to make a slight alteration to my layout. The width of the right navigation and the right margin of the content window are now specified in percentages instead of ems. The change only really becomes obvious when you change the text size or alter the width of your browser window. The right nav gradually shrinks in width as the window gets narrower, giving the content a little more room to work with. This is something of a compromise in visual design, but I believe it makes the content just that little bit more accessible, which is a good thing.
This is really scary! This is the first time since its launch back in September 2002 that I have redesigned the si-blog. Because I don't use any blogging software, such as Movable Type or Blogger, I must create every entry manually using a text editor. Part of the reason I decided to do a redesign was to cut down on the amount of work I must to do.
The new format is based around an unordered list, with each entry existing as a different list item, giving me all sorts of formatting options. I will no longer be giving each entry its own document. From now on, a month of entries will be archived together, though permanent links will point to specific sections. These permanent links are now incorporated into the entry title, which is an
<h4>element. In addition, the entire month has its own permanent link (as part of an
I apologize for not writing more over the last week, but a ton of homework, 2 feet of snow and a frustrating disagreement with MSN TV (it now supports the CSS
@importrule) have made it impossible for me to find the time. I hope to be back on track soon.
Jeffrey Zeldman churns out interesting material at a prolific rate, most of which I munch eagerly in an effort to learn as much as I can about web design. Today he has written a brief piece commenting on an excellent article by John P. Gallant about the float model of Internet Explorer. Zeldman says:
Float is essential to all CSS layouts - it's how we tell elements to sit next to each other instead of lining up one after the other in Chinese fire drill formation.
All CSS layouts? This is a popular misconception, I think. It scares many designers away from CSS who find float rules difficult to understand. I know that sounds like a lame excuse, but have you actually read the float rules? They are not the easiest specifications to follow. Let me give you this teaser:
A floated box must have an explicit width (assigned via the 'width' property, or its intrinsic width in the case of replaced elements). Any floated box becomes a block box that is shifted to the left or right until its outer edge touches the containing block edge or the outer edge of another float. The top of the floated box is aligned with the top of the current line box (or bottom of the preceding block box if no line box exists). If there isn't enough horizontal room on the current line for the float, it is shifted downward, line by line, until a line has room for it.
Since a float is not in the flow, non-positioned block boxes created before and after the float box flow vertically as if the float didn't exist. However, line boxes created next to the float are shortened to make room for the floated box. Any content in the current line before a floated box is reflowed in the first available line on the other side of the float.
Huh? I can just see Mr. Wysiwig eating all that up with gusto.
Anyway it's time I got to the point of this blog entry. I think Zeldman has dismissed those designers who prefer the slightly more rigid approach of using absolute positioning. Since I first became aware of Cascading Style Sheets I have been using absolute positioning to control the layout of my sites. Contrary to the use of float, I rarely have unexpected or difficult-to-fix issues with it. I prefer to limit the use of float to displaying images or little
divelements with quotations in and the like. But it seems that absolute positioning is not trendy enough. I don't understand this at all, because I would have thought that designers who are used to using tables for laying out everything would at least find comfort in placing
divelements wherever they like.
Maybe I'm just being an old fart.