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Aaahhhh.... cascading style sheets
Cascading style sheets offered the ultimate customisable view - reading text just the way you liked it, tweaked to be tailored to your comfort. Content. Structure. Presentation.
Unfortunately, what implementations of CSS actually delivered was
a way for idiot fascist platform-specific 'web professionals' to serve you pages you can't read
to your browser before promptly crashing it. There
load default style option in browser preferences; you're lucky if you get some
primitive text size and colour controls. These days you can 'skin' the 'interface' of your browser - those
buttons and controls round the edges - but you have far less control over the bit in the middle that you're
actually reading. You know, the hypertext that is the interface.
Meanwhile, style control is all at the server end, in the hands of people who don't know what your display or eyesight are like, and they override your express tastes every single time. Their content. Their structure. Their presentation. Inseparable. This is fine, when they're fully aware of what they're doing and weigh the consequences of their actions carefully. But when they aren't and don't... So you turn CSS off, giving the finger to the fascists the only way you can.
It would be something of an understatement to remark that CSS hasn't fulfilled its promise. Not when you have to turn it off to be able to read the web.
So, you have little choice. Either grin and bear what CSS dictates, or turn it off. Redressing the balance would be good. Give the user choice! Let the user read the text the way she likes! Get away from that it's-a-printed-page-that-glows-in-the-DARK mindset!
Babelparam is a very neat demonstration of the limits of the possible, but it's far, far too heavy, complex and error-prone to modify for regular use on a page-by-page basis for most people. (Dean, as you may have gathered, is not most people. Admired his Amiga WorkBench 3.0 option?)
So I found a simpler way.
I've also thrown in a couple of other styles; if you're using, say, Netscape under Solaris, you'll be able to see how truly broken and platform-specific the house style used by CNN is.
.htaccess file makes sure that this stylist page doesn't die on you when
you neglect to select a valid parameter or otherwise play with the URL.
ErrorDocument 404 /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/default.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/default.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Oldstyle.css
RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Chocolate.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Chocolate.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Midnight.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Midnight.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Modernist.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Modernist.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Oldstyle.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Oldstyle.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Steely.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Steely.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Swiss.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Swiss.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Traditional.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Traditional.css RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C/Ultramarine.css http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Ultramarine.css
RedirectPermanent /Personal/L.Wood/styles/W3C http://www.w3.org/StyleSheets/Core/Oldstyle.css
Forget bringing CSS back from the dead. I'm going back to turning CSS off.
Lloyd Wood (L.Wood@society.surrey.ac.uk)
this page last updated 23 March 2000