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Sent by Felix Miata on 25 February 2003 18:06

This URL is Eric Meyer's blog entry of 24 Feb 2003, discussing Ian
Hixie's blog entry of 20 Feb 2003 at, which complains of the
consequences of selecting 1600x1200 screen resolution, which inter alia
caused him to bump his default font size to 24px, and names Eric's site
as a tiny fonts offender.

Eric discusses how Ian can solve the problem via a simple user
stylesheet rule: html, body {font-size: 1em !important;}. I applied this
approach some time back. It works, on sites like Eric's, competently
designed using CSS, but not on sites that make text tiny the old
fashioned way.

There is a war going on - webmasters vs. users. Webmasters want what
they want, or what their clients want, or both. Eric and others like him
will get their way and see their tiny text, in spite of not setting
their browsers to the size they like in the first place instead of using
css applied to each page they create. And, since it is what they see, it
is what they expect to be similarly seen by most others. That makes them

What they expect, however, is in the process of becoming an illusion.

You see, Hixie is doing more than just complaining. Besides being a
user, he's also a Mozilla project participant. He's fighting the war
against tiny text at the UA level. At yesterday he
followed up on his Friday observation by emphasizing the need for
improvements in text zoom, and implementing the languishing page zoom
fix, which would put Mozilla on par with Opera. Mozilla has quite a
number of open bugs intended to improve user control over text size.

I recently started a page designed for mere mortal browser users that in
part discusses the user stylesheet approach to combatting tiny text
<>. There I list
reasons I've observed why user default text is used so little. I think
the crux is the #1 entry: because they can. Webmasters have the power,
so they use it.

Matthew 'mpt' Thomas, Mozilla's former UI design expert, opined at that not fixing
the bug in question leaves a small market force encouraging webmasters
to "Do The Right Thing with font sizes", going on to say that if fixed
there would come a day that the disparity between what users want and
what webmasters want will escalate, webmasters wanting 40%, while users
demand 200% from Mozilla. 

I'm not sure that would actually come to pass, but I do think some
things will happen to more effectively thwart webmasters ability to
impose tiny text, someday. #1-browsers will come with a pre-defined user
stylesheet that includes "html, body {font-size: 100% !important;}",
eventually with it set on by default, and its use will be prominent in
the README; #2-UA's will get smart enough to convert pt and px
application to non-css text sizing and scale that up to the preferential
text size automatically, a form of auto-zoom that leaves image and
layout sizing alone, without the drawbacks of using the minimum text
size pref; #3-There will be a new browser button right next to back,
fwd, stop, & reload. I don't know what it will be called, but it will be
a toggle that effectively undoes most if not all a webmaster's hard work
stuffing so much into so little space, getting the body text back up to
100% of the user's pref.

I hope no one thinks this is a troll. It isn't so intended. The main
point was to announce the blog entries, which would maybe stimulate some
discussion on the coming proliferation of enabled high screen resolution
and higher default font pixel values, and their impact on overall site
design. I'll be switching to higher resolution myself as soon as I can
find workable solutions for enough of the obstacles.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have
for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
                                                Benjamin Franklin

 Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409

Felix Miata  ***
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