Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

W3C. Hire Ben Schwarz now. Making specs nice to look at!

Category: CSS, Standards

While preparing my HTML WORKSHOP, I’ve been re-reading W3C specs in far further detail than I ever would’ve imagined. The reading experience is far from delightful. Not only is the text the entire browser width in measure, but it’s dense and laborious to read. No wonder browser vendors have traditionally missed subtle details.

The paragraph above is how Ben Schwarz starts off his post on “Moving towards readable W3C specs”. He roped in Anthony Kolber, and the end result is something that is a pleasure to read!:

The W3C should hire these guys to keep going and clean up shop across the specs. Then, when they look beautiful, maybe we can do the other hard work of making them readable ;)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:17 am

4 rating from 1 votes


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Excellent work! And about time too…

Comment by communicatedesign — May 19, 2010

A site for sore eyes? (sorry). Good job.

Comment by kissmyawesome — May 19, 2010

I can’t for the life of me work out how to install into Greasemonkey – it displays as plainttext in the browser, and if I save it to disk I can’t load it either. Can someone enlighten me?

Comment by MarcusT — May 19, 2010

You can install the script directly from here:

If it’s still showing up as plain text, then it sounds like something is going wrong with your Greasemonkey.

Comment by kolber — May 19, 2010

I tried something similar using Adobe ASDoc’s to format the specs. I got pretty far mixing and matching all the different specs. Although got tired after a while. Check it out, it’s pretty useful

Comment by gmariani — May 19, 2010

Awesome idea. The Greasemonkey scripts worked for me in FF, Chrome, and Opera.

Comment by souders — May 19, 2010

I like the layout of the W3 version better. Liquid layout is good for text – I can set my browser to the width I want the column to be.

Comment by WillPeavy — May 19, 2010


While your opinion is completely valid, I do have a contrary view: I never resize my browser window, and columns of text are only readable up to a certain width. I expect designers to keep this in mind because screen resolutions are increasing and many people still maximize every window. My own browser window is fairly wide, which is great because designs are increasingly accommodating wider screens, but text becomes basically unreadable (without zooming) if it is fluid width and doesn’t have some kind of sensible max-width.

Comment by eyelidlessness — May 20, 2010

Nice, but why text isn’t justified?

Comment by movax — May 22, 2010

“I like the layout of the W3 version better. Liquid layout is good for text – I can set my browser to the width I want the column to be.”

I was about to jump to this design’s defence and point out that there is a particular maximum line width, where a block of text with lines that are too long becomes much harder to read. However, indeed, this is a fixed width, which is EXTREMELY silly for text.

My favourite thing is to set max-width for the text. That way IE6 users suffer with excessively long lines of text, and everyone else can go about reading my site without thinking ONCE about how wide their browser is. If the browser is too wide, the text is still readable. If the browser is really narrow, the text fits just fine.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with this. Sorry :)

Whenever I see a specification when wondering how something works, I recoil in horror and look for a different source of information. That’s a real shame, because the information is quite useful.
I find myself actually _wanting_ to read the information with Ben’s redesign. So, nice stuff!

Comment by Picklesworth — May 22, 2010

I installed W3C Specification styles in Chrome, but the font size is terrible huge. What’s wrong?
The problem:
My Chrome font setting:

Comment by arphen — May 24, 2010

I agree whole heartedly. Narrow, fixed-width layouts are a PITA for long documents. Text regions should be set to expand or contract within reasonable limits for a variety of fonts and window sizes so users can adjust their browser window if they wish.

Although IE doesn’t support the max-width property, there are still fall-backs to percentage widths and other tricks with IE-specific style sheets to keep its users happy.

Comment by RobG — May 25, 2010

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