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Re: xsl:fo in web browsers

Subject: Re: xsl:fo in web browsers
From: "James Tauber" <jtauber@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 09:13:57 +0800
xsl fo web browsers
----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Tchistopolskii <paul@xxxxxxx>
> OK. I agree that there would be some differences between
> the stylesheets for different media. To me,  stylesheets which
> are having 95-99% percent in common are 'the same', but
> maybe you are talking about another percentage?

Your original post clearly said "one stylesheet", not "two very similar
stylesheets". If it had said the latter I wouldn't have objected.

Actually, I would estimate a lower percentage. Between something like web
and print, many templates could be identical, but those that produce any
kind of navigation on line or TOCs would be quite different. Depending on
the document type, these would make up anywhere from 5-50%. Between print
and a PDA, it would be a greater difference. I would estimate that the
majority of templates would differ between print and a PDA.

Note that I'm assuming the use of variables to parameterise things like
fonts (or the use of inheritence). If templates explicits specify font then
the difference between a web and print stylesheet might be as much as

> > I have been producing dual-media (print and web) for five years and I
> > *never* come across a document I would by preference display the same
> > as in print.
> Have you seen http://www.netit.com

I haven't. They may very well do a very good job at finding a common ground,
but I doubt that their print is as good as a stylesheet for print and their
web as good as a stylesheet for web.

Note that anything like this is a trade off. Yes, you can use the same
stylesheet, but at a cost of reduced usability in one or more of the media.
Using different stylesheets might take more effort, but with a more usable

My point is simply that one would find it almost impossible to impress both
Jakob Nielsen and any one of the typesetters I've worked with at the same
time :-)

> I agree, the biggest ( and the only serious ) difference is pagination
> ( and navigation between pages as a result ). However NetIt copes
> with that problem. I'm not saying that their solution will  work
> for *any* client. I'm saying that my experience with some real-life
> clients tells me that developers from NetIt are correct in some
> of their ideas.

When you say NetIt "copes with that problem", are you saying they add in
navigation in some way? If so, then I would argue they are in effect using a
different stylesheet.

> > Consider delivery of the same document to a third medium: a PDA. There
> > completely different approaches that need to be taken to fonts,
> > and navigation.
> What do you mean by 'completely' ?

What I mean is that

(1) the fonts are extremely different: compare my Palm V's "normal", "big"
and "bold" to PDF's 24pt Helvetica Oblique, ...

You could use bitmap equivalents to get 24pt Helvetica Oblique but it would
take up a whole screen just for a heading.

(2) pages are radically different sizes. My Palm V is 55mm x 55mm compared
with, say 210mm x 297mm.

(3) as a result, navigation strategies are very different.

> > Now sure, these different stylesheets will have a lot in common and you
> > modularise your stylesheets to achieve this. But to produce exactly the
> > formatting objects for print, web and PDA is a really bad idea!
> I agree that  in some cases it may be a bad idea. I still think
> that  in some cases it is a good idea.
> I have no statistics. My feeling is that both cases have comparable
> niche.

If people are willing to reduce usability (for whatever gain they get in
having one stylesheet instead of two or three) then that's a valid decision
on their part.

I'll say it again, though, I believe that one would find it almost
impossible to impress both Jakob Nielsen and any one of the typesetters I've
worked with at the same time :-)

James Tauber / jtauber@xxxxxxxxxxx / www.jtauber.com
Maintainer of : www.xmlinfo.com,  www.xmlsoftware.com and www.schema.net
<pipe>Ceci n'est pas une pipe</pipe>

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