[whatwg] Comments to Web Forms 2.0 downloaded 2004-09-18 (HTML

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Mon Nov 22 03:07:44 PST 2004

On 22 Nov, 2004, at 9:16 AM, Mattias Waldau wrote:
> ...
> All I want is to be able to send a receipt that looks exactly like the 
> webpage, and I cannot see why that should be forbidden.

Straw man. It's not forbidden; it just isn't easy to do, because it 
shouldn't be easy to do, because it's a bad idea. In a well-designed 
human system, good things should be easy and bad things should be hard.

As Mikko said, generate a PDF (or a PNG, even) if you want a receipt 
looking like the original form. What, that's too hard? Good, then the 
system is working as it should.

> And how can you say "This is poor UI." This is a religious statement

Not really. It's quite measurable if you have enough money, time, 
people, and recording equipment. In the absence of those things we use 
heuristics, things like "it's a bad idea for two things with very 
different purposes to look exactly the same".

> and you should not be the judge on design principles of web forms.

Well, someone has to be. Someone has to decide what HTML 5 will and 
will not include, which involves making judgements about what should be 
easy and what should be hard. Someone has to decide that there won't be 
an attribute for letting menus have scrollbars, and that there won't be 
a <dial> element, and that there won't be a readonly attribute for 
checkboxes, et cetera.

If you think Ian should not be that person, you could start your own 
working group, and persuade the powers that be at Apple, Opera, and the 
Mozilla Organization that they should listen to you instead of him. But 
it would be considerably easier just to persuade Ian that you're right 
and I'm wrong on this issue.

> If you really think that, you should remove the readonly property for 
> ordinary text boxes too.

I wrote "text controls are the only controls that have an 
understandable manipulable-but-not-editable state". I don't see how I 
could have made that much easier to understand, even if I'd known it 
was going to be republished.

> ...
> You should look at your design principles for the standard. The 
> standard should be as simple as possible. The number of exceptions 
> should be low. Having readonly everywhere is much simpler than having 
> it everywhere except .....

GUI controls are not a symmetric system. The same attributes do not 
apply to everything, and the existence of the readonly attribute only 
for text fields is just one example of this. (Another example is that 
individual tabs should never be disabled.) Spec simplicity is an 
important factor, but not the *only* factor in making HTML 5 documents 
as useful and usable as possible.

Matthew Thomas

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