state of the html/css format discussion (pre-advent calendar)
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Level 26 Mixist
post #149273 :: 2021.11.23 3:21pm :: edit 2021.11.24 4:47am
  Luigi64, kleeder, mirageofher, funute, Jangler and raphaelgoulart liēkd this
1 background and stuff

hello! i reminded myself recently that i would bring up some points
against the current html/css format rules and how i consider them to
be unrealistic. advent calendar is about a week away now (hype) so i
thought this was a good time to bring it up as html becomes relevant
again. i know that there’s been quite a lot of talk over this format
for a while, i guess partly because it’s open-ended and confusing
because that’s kinda how the web works (and is part of my argument).

i actually struggled finding the bulletins in which most of this was
discussed, search engines brought up nothing so i went and wrote a
python script that returned csv files containing the title and url for
each bulletin and bug report. they don’t have some of the really old
posts but you can download them here if you want: link

here are the two relevant posts about this:::

2 what the html/css format rules are now (outside of bitpacks)

what i think is fine:
• javascript, and any content requiring a plugin to run are not
• you can use any media resources, images, audio etc. as long as
they’re original or public domain
• no hotlinking (e.g. no external links in the src of an <img>
• under 1KiB

what i think is currently problematic:
• all webpages require only use of HTML4 tags (no HTML5 tags like
<audio> or <section>)
• and as such, must also require use of HTML4-era standards for CSS

3 why are these rules problematic?

my argument is that the web didn’t really have hard stop-gaps where
everyone unanimously declared points at which the standard is the
standard. the transition between HTML or CSS standards is a gradual
one and the only way i can think of to set a marker of comparison is
to use some specific version of a web browser, since web technologies
are highly dependant on whether they are implemented in the browser
or not. i think it’s silly to try and choose some old browser and expect
everyone to be able to source it and run it on modern hardware (also
increases barrier to entry).

i understand that puke wanted a format that would represent and bring
back (in a way) how the old web used to be, spinning gifs, MIDI
background music and whatnot, however i think that’s not fully do-able
at least not in a way that’s simple to understand.

the evolution of the web has been messy, and it’s only when HTML5
rolled around did things start to become at least a little bit sane.
from quicktime plugins and flash and activex and microsoft trying it’s
darn best to become a monopoly in the browser market (oh hey they’re
doing that again…) i think it’s something we can’t really replicate
anymore. maybe i am saying this only because i hate making page
layouts with tables but i think there is something of substance here.

to fully know what is HTML4-standard and what is HTML5-standard is
more difficult than it seems (i’m happy to be proven wrong) and even
if we did know, modern browsers would give us problems because they
keep changing so darn much. you’d have to keep it all in your head and
anyone with previous recent knowledge of web development would
often use things that are HTML5 standard and so break the rules
unknowingly (this happened during advent calendar 2020).

4 what do i think the rules should be changed to?

i think the rules should change to be the current HTML5 standard, with
CSS and media resources but no javascript or anything requiring a
plugin, like how it used to be. a submitted entry would then need to
work in the latest version of either the WebKit, Blink or Gecko
rendering engines as those are the most popular.

this makes it simple for everyone to understand as it’s mostly just
“html5 without the js”, and not being able to use javascript makes for
an interesting limitation as you may be able to use some hacky CSS or
multiple web pages to do the same thing.

maybe the current state of the format is actually less confusing than
i think, so let me know if you think it is. (apologies for the wordy post, i struggle being concise sometimes)

`= liēk if you agree or hæit if you disagree (also comment why) ='

e: this post might look really bad on mobile whoops. maybe i shouldn't just copy paste the output of org-mode utf-8 export into here
Level 31 Chipist
post #149289 :: 2021.11.23 8:22pm
  argarak liēkd this
Level 26 Mixist
post #149297 :: 2021.11.24 4:45am
  kleeder liēkd this
oh whoops. what i totally meant is that there is a 24 in 76 chance equal likelihood that html will occur in the advent calendar. that's like 32% or something, the odds are clearly probable. maybe i did partially fail my probability and statistics course but you can still believe that right??
Level 23 Chipist
post #149453 :: 2021.11.28 4:50am
  tfx and kleeder liēkd this
i think it's nearly 38% if all formats have equal likelihood of being picked, also i think probable means necessarily above 50%.

yours truly,

sheldon cooper.
Level 31 Chipist
post #149454 :: 2021.11.28 5:05am
  YQN liēkd this
technically correct, but html always gets in for whatever reason.
idk, i dont make the rules.

(actually i do. )
Level 23 Chipist
post #149456 :: 2021.11.28 5:08am
  kleeder liēkd this
and that's how you go from 37.647% to 99.998%
Level 28 Hostist
post #149471 :: 2021.11.28 7:57pm
  tonreihe, raphaelgoulart, argarak and kleeder liēkd this
honestly what i think i want the plain html format to be is html 2.0 which had tables but no css but that's a moot point

i'm fine, however, with it coming to mean html with css/media and no js or plugins

haha i remember when tables were the hot new thing -- i was in high school making dumb webpages in the cornputer lab during lunch hour -- trading dubbed concert tapes by mail with people online -- hell yeah i had my list of tapes in a table!!

anyways, maybe we could have an `html classic`format at some point which would have those classic default colors (off white background) and a cheat sheet since the style attribute usage is wonk compared to modern css xD
Level 26 Mixist
post #149475 :: 2021.11.29 6:44am
at least that's a solid use of tables, for actually storing tabular data and not making an entire page layout!

looking at html 2.0 stuff i managed to find a spec for all the supported html elements in there (keep in mind you have to write all the tags in all caps for them to be "fully compliant") but i struggled to find mention of all the attributes? i remember align and bgcolor (i think border was also a thing?) but that's about it really. it's quite a bit more limited, like the design philosophy was just "well everyone's screen is 800x600 and we can just use images to create the layout of the page".

i actually remembered this morning that the w3c validator actually has modes for the ancient html standards so that could be a way we could distinguish between valid and invalid entries, at least in theory. in practice, the validator is very pedantic and will point out lots of errors even if the webpage renders fine so that could be a slippery slope.

i think a 'html classic' format would be too wordy, and i don't know if that's a good or bad thing. early html basically has the same features as a basic modern word processor and i already feel like i have to be pretty wordy to make a good entry with the html4 limitations (that could just be a limit to my creativity, which is fair enough). not like i didn't have a good time reading all the web pages for last advent but i also don't like to chase down people for using <audio> or css transitions or something like that. i'm not sure if formatted text is really enough to become its own thing, especially if it gets the same treatment as the old ascii format did.

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