[whatwg] Fallback styles for legacy user agents [was: Re: Deprecating <small> , <b> ?]

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Thu Nov 27 23:42:38 PST 2008

Calogero Alex Baldacchino wrote:
> That worked fine on Opera 9 and FF2, but, when tried on IE7, the show 
> became a little weird... the element was there, the style attribute was 
> regarded as for any other element (display:block worked), but didn't 
> applied to any of its descendents, as if they weren't its descendents... 
> setting 'display:inline' didn't changed much but a brake in the line 
> disappeared, *setting 'display:none' didn't made any descendent 
> disappear... Why?

Note that display values cascade, but do not inherit:



> having a closer look to the element's properties you 
> can note a 'canHaveHTML' property with a value of 'false', while both 
> firstChild and lastChild are null. It seems the unknown element is 
> treated as expected, but any markup between its opening and closing tags 
> is moved outside... That mean, for instance, trying and hiding a menu 
> element which is a context menu would not work with its list of items, 
> while floating it if it was a sidebar would not float its inner elements 
> as well...

There is certainly a backwards compatibility issue with how unknown 
elements are parsed, although there is a JS-dependent hack to fix IE7:


A similar problem and hack exists for styling HTML4's ABBR in IE6 too.

> Perhaps, if a foundation default aural sheet had been provided from its 
> early standard definition, assistive addons could have choosen to 
> support aural CSS, since the "base" would have been good and all they 
> had to do would have been treating values as relative ones, to adjust 
> accordingly to their usability studies...

Well, there was at least:


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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