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Google Planning To Remove CSS Regions From Blink

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the good-riddance dept.

Chromium 249

mikejuk writes "Google and Opera split from WebKit to create Blink, their own HTML rendering engine, and everyone was worried about the effect on standards. Now we have the first big example of a split in the form of CSS Regions support. Essentially Regions are used to provide the web equivalent of text flow, a concept very familiar to anyone who has used a desktop publishing program. The basic idea is that you define containers for a text stream which is then flowed from one container to another to provide a complex multicolumn layout. The W3C standard for Regions has mostly been created by Adobe — a long time DTP company. Now the Blink team has proposed removing Regions support to save 10,000 lines of code in 350,000 in the name of efficiency. If Google does remove the Regions code, which looks highly likely, this would leave Safari and IE 10/11 as the only two major browsers to support Regions. Both Apple and Microsoft have an interest in ensuring that their hardware can be used to create high quality magazine style layouts — Google and Opera aren't so concerned. I thought standards were there to implement not argue with." Although mikejuk thinks this is a bad thing, a lot of people think CSS Regions are awful. Mozilla has never intended to implement them, instead offering the CSS Fragmentation proposal as an alternative. One major flaw of CSS Regions is its reliance upon markup that is used solely for layout, violating the separation of content and style that CSS is intended to enforce.

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249 comments

The web needs a good layout engine (4, Interesting)

mozumder (178398) | about 5 months ago | (#46103361)

With the web finally hitting magazine-quality typography, there's definitely a need for a proper layout engine that's flexible and can achieve exactly what graphic designers want.

CSS regions might not be it (or it might), but Google needs to offer something to replace it, because that's the closest thing the web had to offer magazine-quality layout. The web needs the equivalent to inDesign.

If they do not, everyone will just layout for iPad (Safari), and that will be considered standard, while other other layout engines like Chrome remain unsupported.

Apple is very good at pushing typography, and had Google offered something that can replace CSS Regions, Apple would have considered it.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46103403)

It's called postscript.

If that's what you want to do just do it. Throw up a .pdf instead of a webpage.

Mangling HTML to make it like .pdf instead is the worst possibility. Yet historically that is what they keep doing. I wont hold my breath waiting for that to change. So expect to see 'regions' garbage stay.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (5, Interesting)

mozumder (178398) | about 5 months ago | (#46103519)

Postscript is for fixed devices.

The issue that programmatic auto-flow systems like CSS regions try to solve is that the layout/text-flow changes with viewport dimension changes.

Honestly at this point, HTML should be obsoleted and everyone use an XML standard like RSS, or something semantic, and lay that out directly with CSS, since the entire web is converging on an blog-post/article-like data model.

Wordpress itself should be the equivalent data-model standard. Most CMSs revolve around that core data structure anyways. No need to build HTML from Wordpress, then lay that out with CSS. Might as well lay out the Wordpress-like data structure directly, without an intermediate HTML step.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (2)

PIBM (588930) | about 5 months ago | (#46103547)

css regions aren't build to auto scale based on the device size. You'll have to manage that manually with javascript :(

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103671)

.HowToAutoScaleAnyRegion {
  width: 50%;
  height: 50%;
}

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103633)

Honestly at this point, HTML should be obsoleted and everyone use an XML standard like RSS, or something semantic, and lay that out directly with CSS, since the entire web is converging on an blog-post/article-like data model.

This has GOT to be a troll.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104557)

Question is: was the W3C trolling us when they came up with XHTML2?

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46104065)

The issue is that you can have layout-level control, or you can have device independence.

PDF gives you one, HTML used properly gives the second, choose one.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#46104695)

The issue is that you can have layout-level control, or you can have device independence.

Or, to a workable approximation, you can have both. There are lots of different devices, but ultimately there are only a manageable number of general types among them: smartphone-ish, tablet-ish, laptop-ish, large laptop/desktop-ish, and maybe a few speciality things. If you have a web site aimed at the general public that provides for 2-3 variations in layout that will fit comfortably on the small/medium/large size screens and you allow for both keyboard/mouse and touch interactions, you can easily retain near-perfect layout control while still playing to the strengths of almost all popular device types.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 5 months ago | (#46104355)

Honestly at this point, HTML should be obsoleted and everyone use an XML standard like RSS, or something semantic, and lay that out directly with CSS, since the entire web is converging on an blog-post/article-like data model.

One of the main goals of HTML is to be that semantic format you wish for. It has taken years (far too many) for it to get to that point, but in general, it works. You mark up your content semantically with HTML and then leave all presentation to be taken care of with CSS. At least, that's what web developers should be doing nowadays. I'm not saying HTML is perfect, far from it in fact, but in conjunction with CSS it does already provide a means to separate content from presentation.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#46103521)

Postscrip != PDF

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103963)

You're right, but the only thing that PDF is missing that PostScript has is the Forth interpreter.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46103651)

Mangling HTML to make it like .pdf instead is the worst possibility. Yet historically that is what they keep doing.

Eventually HTML will become like Postscript, but in an ad-hoc and messy way, instead of a consistent architectural design that guarantees cleanness (which would have been done if they'd just used postscript in the first place).

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104593)

It's called postscript.

Slashdot, home of the Technology Taliban. If it didn't exist 20 years ago, they're against it.

One quick look at the "source" ought to convince everyone that HTML/CSS could be a vastly superior layout technology when compared with not-human-readable garbage that is PS/PDF.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

phmadore (1391487) | about 5 months ago | (#46104679)

Or, someone should develop something like pdf which is more lightweight and easier to navigate.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46104731)

It seems to me that a pragmatic willingness to force HTML to do what it's not particularly good at has been the key to its long term success -- not architectural purity.

I can see how regions doesn't fit in with the overarching theme of content/formatting separation of CSS3, but while it's unquestionably ugly philosophically, it's unclear to me how much of a *practical* problem that actually is. If you don't need CSS regions, then you can simply not use it and be every bit as pure as if the feature never existed at all.

On the other hand, if you *do* need the capability of CSS Regions, mixing postscript into your workflow, user experience, and site management seems like a very poor substitute to be able to do everything in HTML and CSS.

I think a reasonable case could be made that the number of people who need this feature is sufficiently small that given the complexity maintaining the feature, it's not worth keeping. However CSS Regions being aesthetically offensive seems a very weak justification for becoming *less* compliant with the standard.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#46103481)

need for a proper layout engine that's flexible and can achieve exactly what graphic designers want. ...
the closest thing the web had to offer magazine-quality layout

Magazine quality layout is exactly why I haven't subscribed to any magazine in years, and prefer to read it on the web, instead of turning to page 96, then page 102, ...

Graphic designers my ass! Clutter-Mongers is a better term.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 5 months ago | (#46103523)

Wrong.

My browser is supposed to control the layout, not the web site.

Do you have any idea how many websites render like absolute shit because I use a custom display font instead of letting them use tiny unreadable headache-inducing fonts?

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103641)

Incorrect.

The art director controls your viewing experience, not you.

That is because you do not know what you like, and the art director knows more about you than you do. They are professionals at knowing what you like.

Really, it goes back to the old saying by Henry Ford "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

My recommendation to you is to stop going to websites without a professional art director. You are hurting your eyes if you do that, and any site that doesn't treat art direction seriously doesn't have useful content anyways, since layout itself is content.

Again, you do not know yourself more than what a professional would know about you. This is something that can't be stated clearly enough.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103685)

since layout itself is content.

No, it's not.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103805)

Yah, you don't know anything about information theory.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 5 months ago | (#46104291)

There is a calculus limit function for this. I won't bother with the equation here. But in simple terms, as website approaches 100% layout, then content approches 0% (eg, "content free"). This can be borne out by looking at some magazine "quality" websites.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

phmadore (1391487) | about 5 months ago | (#46104719)

I agree. Shitty websites often have beautiful, expensive designs.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103763)

"...Again, you do not know yourself more than what a professional would know about you. This is something that can't be stated clearly enough..."

This is absolutely ridiculous bullshit that would be ironically funny if there werent so many idiots who actually think this way. This is something that can't be stated clearly enough.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103969)

Are you trying to imply that you know what you want better than what a professional would know about you?

Maybe you should do everything in the world yourself?

Also, maybe you should force everyone else to do everything themselves, since everyone also knows themselves more than what a professional would.

fucking libertarian narcissist precious snowflake.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104603)

you have problems man

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

phmadore (1391487) | about 5 months ago | (#46104769)

Holy shit, I can smell the evil coming off you. Check it out, bro: many of us around here do like to do almost everything ourselves. That's why we use Linux, which can be a time-consuming hobby in and of itself. That's why we learn to code, which can take years to master. That's why we're mechanics, chefs, publishers, writers, and so forth, all by ourselves. Your specialization horse-shit was covered very well in a document called Industrial Society and Its Discontents by Theodore Kacynski, aka, the Unabomber. While his actions are unconscionable, the reasoning you display was very well covered in that document, also called his "manifesto." Ironically, Kacynski hated many of the things I love, ie, technology, but I was still willing to read and understand his philosophy. I recommend you do the same, and then realize what a lowlife you have become in your young age. This is something that can't be stated clearly enough.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104173)

layout itself is content

No it's not. Layout is presentation, flash, marketing, artsy fartsy. It's not content, period. Without content the layout means nothing for anyone, without the layout the content is still 100% relevant and useful to ALL.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 5 months ago | (#46104499)

Yeah, totally! Presentation and artistic design can never be content in themselves! Da Vinci should have just painted The Last Supper attendees in alphabetical order and left it to the viewer to do the rest.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | about 5 months ago | (#46104243)

My recommendation to you is to stop going to websites without a professional art director. You are hurting your eyes if you do that, and any site that doesn't treat art direction seriously doesn't have useful content anyways, since layout itself is content.

Like /.? :p

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

phmadore (1391487) | about 5 months ago | (#46104703)

Slashdot has a "professional art director"?

This troll is genius.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103665)

It would help if CSS had "functions" that could fill in sizes. As it is, coping with your custom display font essentially requires using javascript to create an invisible object, put the text in, see how big it is, and cope. If your username is iiiiiiiiiiii

#usernamebox { width:widthOf('iiiiiiiiiiii'); }

Would be a hell of a lot more accurate than

#usernamebox { width:<?=strlen($username)?>em; }

(unless its a monospace font like <ecode> uses, I guess :)

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104273)

I don't suppose it's possible to let the browser figure out the width by itself. Just invent width:fit for that rare case the box needs to perfectly fit the content.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104389)

#thebox { display:inline-box; }

Is that display: inline-block ? (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46104537)

That sounds a bit like inline-block.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104443)

Most likely those websites use the wrong units when defining container sizes in CSS, px when they should use em.

I look at most websites with CSS off, precisely because I want to read text in my preferred font and for that, styled containers are one step better than tables. I.e, I choose to turn off layouts which means my browser does control layout, in a way.

But I agree CSS regions aren't ideal. I should be able to wrap chunks of content in sections and instruct browsers to layout section1 in one column 15em wide, and section2 in another column filling the rest of the window, as long as the media width is at least 30em. If the media's not wide engough or if the browser simply doesn't want to, fall back to displaying the content sequentially.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (4, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46104691)

This gets into the sticky conflict of art versus utility. Most geeks consider the utility standpoint first: we want to absorb info as quickly as possible. However to some designers and/or readers, a web page is as much art as utility: the designer is trying to inject a feeling using look, style, and feel.

Are you going to tell an oil painter to "increase the contrast" so you can see his/her painting better? "Hey Monet, your dither size is too large, I can't make out the detail!"

I'm not condoning any one viewpoint, only pointing out there may be conflicting goals and expectations involved here.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103605)

With the web finally hitting magazine-quality typography, there's definitely a need for a proper layout engine that's flexible and can achieve exactly what graphic designers want.

Who gives a shit what graphic designers want besides graphic designers and pointy-hairs?

Why are we still trying to force web content into a print context?

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (-1, Offtopic)

Dahamma (304068) | about 5 months ago | (#46104531)

Who gives a shit what graphic designers want besides graphic designers and pointy-hairs?

And... this is why Linux on the desktop is still a niche for developers...

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103659)

Why? If I want magazine style layout, I'll open a fucking magazine.

When I go to a website, I want to see text and as few images as possbile, period.

I don't even want to see 5 different fonts used on an entire company's website, I would prefer one, and as few as possible different sizes to boot.

Splashing graphics so that the text is barely legible doesn't make a good web page and is idiotic to an extreme.

As an aside, Apple is the last company I would hold up as representing anything good about anything - Apple and Microsoft are two of the worst technology companies that have done as much as possible to prevent technology innovation in recent years.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103707)

Because the content producer doesn't want you to look at his content the way you want it.

Nobody cares what YOU want from the web.

What matters is what content producers want from the web.

They don't want you to look at their website with your fonts/layout, since you suck at design.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#46103851)

They don't want you to look at their website with your fonts/layout, since you suck at design.

Yes, unlike the 'designer' who 'designed' a web page that assumes you're on a desktop PC with Flash, not a 7" tablet without.

But I guess it guarantees a job for life as you have to keep producing yet more different versions of the same page for every new device.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103753)

When I go to a website, I want to see text and as few images as possbile, period.

Then stick to BBS and mailing lists, clearly you aren't ready for the web and it wasn't made for you. What you want already exists so stop complaining and trying to push your archaic grandpa ideals on everybody else.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104045)

When I go to a website, I want to see text and as few images as possbile, period.

Then stick to BBS and mailing lists, clearly you aren't ready for the web and it wasn't made for you.

The web was made for exactly that. The web is currently an abomination.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 5 months ago | (#46104553)

Why? If I want magazine style layout, I'll open a fucking magazine. When I go to a website, I want to see text and as few images as possbile, period.

And when I want to watch a movie, I'll go to the theater! If I'm viewing it on my tablet I'd prefer it delivered as a screenplay and unmixed mp3s for the soundtrack.

Re:The web needs a good layout engine (3)

ultranova (717540) | about 5 months ago | (#46104765)

With the web finally hitting magazine-quality typography, there's definitely a need for a proper layout engine that's flexible and can achieve exactly what graphic designers want.

The problem is, a flexible layout engine is really a declarative programming language and most graphic designers are horrible at programming, thus the layouts they design are extremely buggy. Yet we can't just let programmers design layouts because they tend to be horrible at graphic design. What's needed is a high-level layout language that can be given a template, produces a consistent look and feel on all devices yet optimizes the details for them, and most importantly any bugs (such as elements overlaying each other) will manifest themselves right there on the designer's display.

Ugh (4, Informative)

rh2600 (530311) | about 5 months ago | (#46103383)

Regions are a horrible, messy, awkward layout model that fundamentally contradicts many of the benefits of HTML layout - particularly for different devices and screen sizes. If you think you need them, just make a PDF already - Adobe already has you covered.

Re:Ugh (5, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#46103421)

Regions are a horrible, messy, awkward layout model that fundamentally contradicts many of the benefits of HTML layout - particularly for different devices and screen sizes.

Yes, we'd all be much better off if the web server just provided content and the browser figured out how to display it, but, sadly, hat boat sailed twenty years ago, when graphic designers jumped on the web bandwagon. 'But my page must be precisely 1920 pixels wide with the text in 36-point Comic Sans, or I'll just die!'.

Re:Ugh (2)

mozumder (178398) | about 5 months ago | (#46103545)

It's because of graphic design that people use the web.

The layout is half the content.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103811)

Complete and utter BS.

Its no big coincidence that the most heavily trafficked sites have minimal if any "graphic design".

There are more people than the ones in your dorm.

Re:Ugh (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#46103827)

It's because of graphic design that people use the web.

The layout is half the content.

That'll be why most web pages I visit are unusable on my 7" tablet unless I zoom in on the specific part I need to read or interact with.

Re:Ugh (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#46103563)

I'm not a web designer, but I don't see what the problem is in the situation you've posed. HTML is supposed to deliver the semantic content to the browser, while CSS is supposed to deliver the display instructions to the browser, exactly in accordance with what you said. Why should it matter if it's a designer making the CSS or if they do have exacting standards for how it should look? They should be able to do so!

The issue here is that regions required mixing some of the display instructions into the semantic markup. I'm all for supporting something that accomplishes what regions were trying to do, but mixing semantics and appearance is a big no-no. Display stuff stays with display stuff, and content stays with content. If you're a designer wanting to work around that limitation, there are Javascript libraries out there that will do stuff like this for you already. No need to screw up a language just to do it.

Re:Ugh (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#46103803)

I'm not a web designer, but I don't see what the problem is in the situation you've posed. HTML is supposed to deliver the semantic content to the browser, while CSS is supposed to deliver the display instructions to the browser, exactly in accordance with what you said.

Hint: CSS arrived in the graphic designer era, and is precisely the problem.

Instead of the browser determining how to display the content, you are telling the browser how to display it, and if you don't happen to have produced a .css file which works on a WhizzPhone 2000, it looks like crap.

Re:Ugh (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#46104509)

And you're suggesting the browser could do the job better without having any indication at all of how things should be presented?

Most browsers still feature the ability to turn off CSS (though it may be tucked away somewhere). Feel free to do so. As someone who has in the past participated in CSS Naked Day, I can attest to the fact that most sites are simply not navigable or easily readable when CSS is disabled and the browser is left to its own devices. I went to great lengths to ensure that mine were, as did many other developers who were following best practices. But if we're talking about developers who are following best practices, then why not give them CSS as a tool as well, since then they'll have the ability to do WAY more in terms of presenting the content in an easier-to-understand format?

Even if the tool ends up in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to provide a responsive layout or a custom one for your WhizzPhone, the crap that your phone shows from their CSS will more often than not be way better than what it would have come up with on its own were the CSS not present.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103715)

No graphic designer, EVER has said they wanted to use Comic Sans.

Ever.

Desktop publishers and geeks that know how to use InDesign aren't graphic designers.

Re:Ugh (4, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46104453)

No graphic designer, EVER has said they wanted to use Comic Sans.

I can think of one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ugh (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#46103725)

Indeed, the reason Adobe wants it is so that HTML/CSS can be used in its DTP software for print media. It would allow designers to use the same software for print and web, and as you point out demand precise rendering from the browser without having to resort to large images or PDF.

Re:Ugh (2, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46103747)

Any designer who tried to argue with me that their page *needed* to be 1920 pixels wide would get a long-winded diatribe about mobile devices and responsive design. It's fine if your page stops growing at 1920 pixels, but you can't expect a tablet or mobile user to fit in 1920 pixels. If your solution is "let them pinch and zoom" then you're going to lose mobile users who are a fast growing segment. Instead, your site should use CSS Media Queries to reconfigure the page depending on the size of the user's display. If done properly, you can resize the browser from desktop size to mobile size and see the transition take place. (Try it with The Boston Globe's website [bostonglobe.com] .)

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103849)

Yes, we'd all be much better off if the web server just provided content and the browser figured out how to display it, but, sadly, hat boat sailed twenty years ago, when graphic designers jumped on the web bandwagon. 'But my page must be precisely 1920 pixels wide with the text in 36-point Comic Sans, or I'll just die!'.

Yeah, in the mid-90s I got the "You have to use these giant images instead of plain text for titles because we paid a lot of money for this font which is identical to Times New Roman except for a slight difference in the lowercase E and our look and feel must remain consistent across all media even if it means doubled page loading times for the 90% of our users who are on dialup so don't fuck with what we give you" speech. That was pretty much the end my desire to be in any web design business.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103441)

If Microsoft did this, you'd be crying foul

Adobe's Red Hand (3, Informative)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 5 months ago | (#46103535)

What a surprise two of the three editors of this standard are Adobe employees.

Re:Ugh (1)

Kookus (653170) | about 5 months ago | (#46103595)

PDF's already embed images, text, layout, colors... you name it.
I don't think that's a reason to publish a pdf over expressing that content in html. Violation of convention or purpose or standards... any of those are good arguments, just not throwing in a reason of X already supports this, so use X.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103703)

And if you think that's bad, try floating text some time.

This tag here solely for the purpose of clearing the float so the box containing the floats actually contain the floats, because nobody wants to suggest that w3c add something like clear:contain to the spec so an extra tag isn't required.

BTW: no, overflow:hidden is not the answer [wordpress.com] .

Standards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103429)

He who thinks "I thought standards were there to implement not argue with" obviously hasn't been around for very long...

Edge Cases (4, Informative)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 5 months ago | (#46103475)

Google is aiming more and more for the core, at the edge's expense.

They provide middling accessibility support, because it isn't something most people need. They dropped MathML support, because it isn't something that most people need. Now, they're dropping CSS Regions, because it isn't something that most people need.

It increasingly appears that you can have your Google product in any color, so long as it's red, green, blue, and yellow. One size fits most, and tough for you if it doesn't.

Re:Edge Cases (1)

krept (697623) | about 5 months ago | (#46103941)

Well isn't it theirs to do with as they please?

Re:Edge Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104051)

That's already one more colour than you need to make every color on a screen.

So thanks google!

Re:Edge Cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104097)

So you're saying that they are like every other business out there? Odd.

Not that I'm an expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103541)

But I can easily imagine that regions are crap. Why don't they implement a purely functional and modern layout&typesetting language instead?

Problem is Content+Presentation model (1)

John Allsup (987) | about 5 months ago | (#46103543)

HTML+CSS attempts to have a content-with-markup source file, and a standard format non-programming language for styling, with no control over how things are layed out. This is great for simpler styling duties, but eventually becomes unwieldy. What is needed is to analyse and factorise how a web browser today actually does layout internally, and create a programming language that can access that directly, drawing on specifications in a CSS-like stylesheet for its source information. That would result in the CSS not, by itself, determining the style, but being subject to the whims of the engine that maps CSS-styles to actual screen representations. But hey, isn't that what we've already got with multiple browsers each implementing their own layout, and the programmable mapping layers hard-coded into the browsers (especially with IE and standards vs. quirks mode)?

I would like to see the Cairo model of drawing standardised, and the layout facilities of an HTML browser and other things added at an API level with the actual browser implemented as a light wrapper on top of that. That would also allow broswer-like apps with different document structures to be developed much more easily. I can dream, I guess.

Re:Problem is Content+Presentation model (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103739)

The problem with CSS is that it's an ungodly mess, and the promise of separating content from presentation was never there to begin with. div style="clear:both", anyone? Or just you try to make 3 columns of the same height using pure css-ness instead of an evil table. Fact is content is as presentation specific as it ever was. But hey, look CSS dropdown menus!

What was needed was a language to transform content-html into presentation-html, but the guys who were _supposed_ to do that got all worked up about writing a generic tree transformation language, Turing complete! functional! in XML!, that they completely forgot what it was actually supposed to be used _for_. With the result that it's not actually used for anything. :(

Re:Problem is Content+Presentation model (3, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 5 months ago | (#46103905)

I hate to say it, but it's not a bug. It's a feature.

Simple markup with limited layout control is the design intent of HTML. It was expressly designed to present documents whose look and layout were to be determined by the reader, not the author. That CSS provides a mechanism to do layout is beside the point because HTML still demands that the browser, not the server determines what a page looks like. This is all by design, because the author can't know what the reader is using to read the document. HTML+CSS is not intended to replace desktop publishing any more than MS Word is. If you want results akin to desktop publishing, you need to use desktop publishing software.

If you want to make a TeX-based browsing engine, please, go right ahead. I'd love to see a TeX engine in browsers just for all the pedantic web designers out there. Trying to make HTML+CSS behave like desktop publishing software is a fool's errand.

Major Browser (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103557)

If Google does remove the Regions code, which looks highly likely, this would leave IE 10/11 as the only major browser to support Regions.

Fixed that for you.

The other folly of modern HTML+CSS+JS (3, Insightful)

John Allsup (987) | about 5 months ago | (#46103591)

Trying to cover all cases with one universal standard is rarely the best solution. Covering the core with a small number of good standards, and having a few others that work differently to handle the rest is often the best way. This is simply because the 'solution space' covered by a single universal standard has many more regions of possibility that will never be touched than a few more focussed standards. Whilst it's massively oversimplifying, imagine the problem of covering a bounded region of a plane, that has an interesting shape, with squares. Hardcore minimalists will point out that one big square will do. That is what the universal standard approach tries to do. The trouble is that a few interesting cases can push the required size of the square to large proportions. If one wants to optimise for area, many small squares are better, but at the expense of having to manage many squares. A balance between these two, with a very small number of large squares and a slightly larger number of smaller squares, tends to be the best solution. Things work similarly with languages, both human and computer ones.

Re:The other folly of modern HTML+CSS+JS (2)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#46104393)

The web is necessarily a universal solution and the standards necessarily have to be compromise between what an individual would like and what the universal solution requires.

For instance when MS tried to destroy the web so it could position MS Windows as the only OS that would run on the web it attacked one particular venerability. That there was no gaurantee layout in a particular browser. Of course that is the way the web works by design. HTML was and is a markup language that identifies bits of text so that they can be presented in a natural way. The standard does not speak about how to present the marked up text. This is so it can be presented on any device.

In any case the control freaks who generally are the PHB and the art department loved the MS idea that one must be in complete control of the users browser, and we had many years of the medieval interwebs where MS controlled way to many a website.

In fact layout control was a good idea and was something developers wanted, so CSS came into being. It was an imperfect solution, but was a standard that could be implemented in any browser, ignored as wanted to the end user was still in control of the browsing experience, and the web was once again saved with a Renaissance.

Google is now in a similar position of MS. It has a product, chrome, that if everyone used would give a great deal of power to control the markets. There is consumer demand to make the web browser run on less powerful hardware Google has a desire to have less powerful hardware in general use because that would tend to mean more user data stored at Google.

Is Google, like MS, willing to break the Web to do this? Evidently so. Is this a big deal. Maybe not right now, but recall MS started small, the integrated the entire COM architecture into IE.

One step forward, two steps back... (1)

ndykman (659315) | about 5 months ago | (#46103611)

Seems HTML and CSS is creaking from the load. I always though the whole point of CSS what to influence how HTML (and/or XML) content was be presented.

Seems like proper text flowing would be a big boon to that. Not that CSS Regions is the best solution, but that why you have a process to discuss and work towards a workable standard. It's clear that Google is more interested in web applications than layout, and removing this code goes along with that.

I don't subscribe to this point of view. I see HTML/CSS as a poor foundation for UI applications. I'd much rather see a new model for application markup and have HTML and CSS focus on static content layout that can be embedded in the application or standalone as a plain web page. But the HTML5/Web2.0 train just keeps rolling along.

Re:One step forward, two steps back... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#46103935)

Of course implementing anything complex - like regions - takes a lot of code. Google's "efficiency" argument looks like a strawman. I mean, come on - if cutting lines of code is a goal unto itself, why not just remove CSS support entirely?

If removing lines of code is the ultimate goal, Google should just grab the lynx source code, rename it Chrome Ultra or something, and declare it as their web browser.

"Google and Opera" (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46103657)

I can't remember the last time an article mentioned four of the five major browsers while including Opera and not Firefox. Times, they are a-changin'

Re:"Google and Opera" (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 5 months ago | (#46103663)

Ok, just saw the mention of Mozilla in the last paragraph. Still interesting that Opera got mentioned at all and Mozilla isn't mentioned until the very end.

Re:"Google and Opera" (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#46103693)

That's because Opera isn't Opera any more.

As the article hints at, they threw away their Presto rendering engine and lumped in with a Chrome-a-like base.

In doing so, they basically started the browser from scratch and in many of the versions released for it (including desktop versions) something like 75% of the features I use Opera for simply aren't there. They haven't got around to recreating them, or have publicly stated they have no intention of ever doing so. They have been several "stable" releases since then, and still no sign of a lot of basic functionality.

Ever since then, it's Chrome-with-knobs-on as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, the knobs are the developers, not the features.

Stick with 12.14 until it no longer renders your sites of choice, if you're an Opera fan at all.

Re:"Google and Opera" (2)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 5 months ago | (#46103735)

I miss being able to use Opera to grab torrents when I needed to do that. The latest version of Opera also removed bookmarks which was amazing to me. Finally ditched Opera and mostly use Firefox, again.

Editorial bias... (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 5 months ago | (#46103759)

The writeup was intended to disparage Google's decision as going off the rails and abandoning an otherwise widely supported standard feature. That image would have been significantly impaired if it made clear that firefox never supported it in the first place, meaning only Apple and Microsoft really bothered. That fact changes things from 'Google is breaking the web by ignoring widely adopted standards' to 'Google abandons obscure function that not many people can use already'.

Re:Editorial bias... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104261)

Not many people can use?

Everybody using the current versions of Chrome and Opera, any WebKit based browser (virtually every handheld device), and IE have a browser that supports regions. Even older versions of Opera supports regions. Depending on who you get your statistics from, between 70-80% of all current web browsers support regions.

That leaves Firefox, and a few niche browsers that don't support regions; currently less than 30% of the total market.

So Google dropping regions represents a shift of 40-ish percent shift of the market. That's huge.

Fork Chromium (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#46103749)

. If Google does remove the Regions code, which looks highly likely, this would leave Safari and IE 10/11 as the only two major browsers to support Regions.

Why not fork Chromium then?

Misread (2)

RCGodward (1235102) | about 5 months ago | (#46103781)

I first misread this as "Google plans to remove Blink from CSS."

I thought, "Isn't that a good thing? Wait, is blink even still around? Wait a minute..."

Then I had to reread the headline and TFS and my fun was over.

Things haven't changed (2, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#46103813)

15 years ago my biggest problem when dealing with HTML was when the clients were print designers.

I guess it hasn't changed. We aren't going to have display postscript on the small mobile devices that are so prevalent now.

Sorry, the web and print are two different media. It isn't going to look the same.

If you need really fine control use PDF.

Stop trying to cram a month's work of clothing into an overnight bag.

&tc.

The Web isn't a magazine (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 5 months ago | (#46103819)

My first thought is that Adobe wants CSS Regions to be able to do print-media-style page layout, missing the point that the Web isn't a printed magazine. You don't know how big your target display window is, you don't even know whether it's landscape or portrait. You don't know if the viewer can even see images at all, nor if they can see colors correctly (look up the percentages of the population with various types of color-blindness). So why are you trying to be so precise about layout with so many unknowns in the mix?

I truly hate Web sites that force a 3-column layout with narrow columns that don't flow to the width of my window, or that flow the advertising material and leave the content narrow and on a dozen different pages so I'm forever clicking "Next" to keep reading. I have a large monitor and a wide window for a reason. My browser has a scroll-bar for a reason. Constraining me to a magazine's column widths and pagination is completely missing the point. I'm there for the content, and when layout becomes so complex and cumbersome that it's interfering with the content you're Doing It Wrong.

People still use Opera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46103897)

Who knew?!

Presentation is tied to content, (4, Insightful)

Above (100351) | about 5 months ago | (#46103927)

One major flaw of CSS Regions is its reliance upon markup that is used solely for layout, violating the separation of content and style that CSS is intended to enforce.

I love the idea that content is marked up based on it's intrinsic content (this is a heading, this is a paragraph, this is a footer) and that is independent from the styling (make this text blue and center it). However if anyone thinks HTML+CSS is a good example of how to do this, they are delusional. View source on any web site and you'll find tens to hundreds of "divs", that is markup, used solely for layout purposes. Even worse, what should be pure markup is often abused for presentational purposes. h1/h2/h3/h4/h5/h6 are rarely used in "outline" form as they are intended, but rather h1's are styled one way, and h2's are styled another, and any particular section of content may start with one or the other based on visual style.

Regions are clearly no worse, or better, in this respect.

I do think "the web" needs something like Regions to go along with load-on-demand content baked into the service. Many web sites simulate that today with Javascript. Given that device sizes are actually getting more spread out, from watches to 80" TV displays, the layouts will have to be different. Being able to design a small/medium/large layout, including some flow of where the content should go, and then providing a list of content (here's 20 articles, load however many fit on the screen) would be awesome. Phones could load one at a time. A 30" monitor user would have all 20. It would all flow, without excessive markup.

In short, I see a lot of the pot calling the kettle black here, and people arguing rather than innovating.

Re:Presentation is tied to content, (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46104617)

I love the idea that content is marked up based on it's intrinsic content (this is a heading, this is a paragraph, this is a footer) and that is independent from the styling (make this text blue and center it). However if anyone thinks HTML+CSS is a good example of how to do this, they are delusional. View source on any web site and you'll find tens to hundreds of "divs", that is markup, used solely for layout purposes.

The sad thing is, if they'd given us the ability to define constants, separating content from presentation would have been easy, and simple. But because some people are worried that the ability to define constants (or macros) would be abused, we have CSS+HTML instead. Which is never abused.

Growing specs (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#46103975)

If only CSS was Turing complete, we wouldn't need these hairy specifications. CSS is slowly becoming a behemoth.

Good! (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 5 months ago | (#46104023)

I'm not a web designer, so I can't speak to the technical pros and cons of CSS regions -- but if this results in fewer web sites flowing an articles text over multiple columns magazine/newspaper-style, then I'm all for it. I hate it when websites do that.

This is a motherfucking website (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104117)

This is a motherfucking website. [motherfuckingwebsite.com]
And it's fucking perfect.

10k? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 5 months ago | (#46104163)

I'm just amazed that it takes 10k lines of code to support this feature.

Re:10k? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104353)

Agreed! I would have thought it would be at the very least 5 times more complicated than that.

This is a highly flammable topic :-o (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 5 months ago | (#46104357)

Before making ANY changes, we need to stabilize and make even the most basic features consistent.
 

Not a standard. (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 5 months ago | (#46104363)

The W3C standard for Regions has mostly been created by Adobe ... I thought standards were there to implement not argue with.

CSS Regions is not a W3C standard. It is a Working Draft. The entire point of publishing a working draft is to solicit feedback from the community. There have been several working drafts that were never promoted to final recommendations, because there was no community consensus that they were a good idea. What Google and Mozilla are doing is a perfectly constructive part of the standardization process.

Re:Not a standard. (1)

Skinkie (815924) | about 5 months ago | (#46104559)

You may recall the SVG standardisation which also included text-flow (still supported by Inkscape) which was then removed from the draft. It seems some companies really do not want users to have such freedom of creative expression in favor of tools that do.

# of Line of Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104619)

I believe the original poster is incorrect
"proposed removing Regions support to save 10,000 lines of code in 350,000 in the name of efficiency."

Eric wrote "I was very surprised to find that patch was over 10,000 lines!" If I am not mistake 10,000 is referring to the patch he wrote to remove most of Region code and not the full region code If the patch is 10,000, can you imagine the full scope of Region?

Fragmentation in the Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46104671)

Mozilla goes for CSS Fragmentation. *snort* Sorry.

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