Sent by Eric A. Meyer on 3 December 2004 15:03
At 12:32 +0000 12/3/04, Bob McClelland wrote:
>Thanks to all who responded. The reason I'm labouring the point here is
>because the very simple styling:
> width : 450;
> w\idth : 400;
>type of thing works for me (IE 5.5, IE6, quirks and standards, Mozilla 1,
>Firefox 1, Opera 7), so why should I use anything else? Michael (Wilson)
>suggested adding an extra line (which is OK):
> width: 400px;
> \width: 450px;
> w\idth: 400px;
>but Zeldman and others suggest using the clumsy voice things. I ask myself
>why, if the simple things do actually work properly?
I can't speak for others, but I can for myself. The first thing
to remember is that Zeldman, or anyone else, may have once suggested
something that they wouldn't still suggest. For example, I know
there are documents out there with my name on them that recommend
using 'link' to associate basic, NN4.x-friendly styles to the
document, and '@import' to bring in the more advanced stuff that
IE5.0 can handle. I would no longer recommend doing that. Still,
someone who read one of those 1998-era documents this morning might
think I do. There's a difference between "did" and "do" that the
Web, and indeed any form of publication, can blur.
So, on to the specific topic at hand. The 'voice-family' hack was
the first of the parsing-bug hacks, and it was (in a word) brilliant.
Some would add the word misguided, but I'm not one of them. At a
time when IE/Win had no standards mode, and when its box model
interpretations differed from every other CSS-aware browser on the
market, the BMH solved a crying need. What's more, it was all valid,
future-compatible CSS. That's most of the reason I call it brilliant.
So its use spread far and wide. Asking why people used the
original BMH is like asking why people ever used punch cards to write
computer programs. At the time, there was no other choice. Now
we have the SMBH, child selector hacks, and a whole slew of tools at
our disposal. The old-timers, of course, keep plodding along using
the same archaic tools they learned back in the day. ("COBOL was
good enough in 1974, and dern it all, it's good enough today!")
Although I should point out that this old-timer has switched over
to using child-selector hacks of late, because of the failure of the
BMH in quirks mode in IE6. I may move to the SBMH, which should
actually be the ECH (Escaped Character Hack), but I still experience
lingering resistance because I don't entirely understand all its
ramifications. I don't like using hacks I don't fully understand.
Now, stop that snickering, or I'll mash your toes with my walker
when you aren't looking.
 Which is, I admit, not a perfect analogy. At the time the BMH
came out, you could use Microsoft's Conditional Comments to feed
IE/Win special values, just as you can today. There were reasons to
prefer one or the other; most of us in the standards community took
to the BMH. Good or bad, that's how things unfolded.
Eric A. Meyer (http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/), List Chaperone
"CSS is much too interesting and elegant to be not taken seriously."
-- Martina Kosloff (http://www.mako4css.com/)
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