[whatwg] Processing the zoom level - MS extensions to window.screen

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+w3c at gmail.com
Wed Nov 24 14:45:23 PST 2010

On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 4:38 PM, Charles Pritchard <chuck at jumis.com> wrote:
> I greatly appreciate the value of standards, but I am at the same time, very
> sensitive to the effects that centrally planned restrictions have on groups.
> The aggregate effect is one where tens of millions are harmed by the
> decisions of a few people in authority. I'd rather see the masses harmed by
> themselves than by authority.

There are two "masses" here: authors and users.  You advocate giving
total control to authors, but that comes at the expense of taking
control away from users.  The web platform is designed to favor users'
needs over authors' needs.  Websites are all forced to have a lot in
common: you can zoom the same way, copy and paste the same way,
navigate the same way, and so on.  This is part of why the web
platform is better for users than, say, Java applets -- it does *not*
give authors total control.

So in fact, one of the many little things that makes the web platform
nice is how users can zoom easily.  For a small percentage of users,
this is essential.  A typical author has few users and will get no
complaints if they mess up zooming, but a browser has tens of millions
to billions of users and will definitely get complaints if the browser
adds a feature that lets even one percent of sites mess up zooming.
It's then up to the few browsers to fix the problem, because you'll
never get millions of authors to all do it.  How will the browsers fix
the problem?  Probably by making the feature useless, like by making
it do nothing or return false values.  Then you're better off having
never added the feature in the first place.

That's the point of the concern over author misuse.  If authors misuse
a feature enough to affect even a small percentage of users, browsers
will compete to fix it if possible.  Consider pop-up ads -- browsers
now all block those, taking control away from authors for the benefit
of users.  Or consider the px unit, which in practice doesn't
necessarily have anything to do with pixels anymore.  We don't want to
add a feature to the platform if it will have to just be disabled when
a significant number of authors use it.  (Whether this is the case for
some *particular* feature, like exposing zoom info, is of course a
separate question.)

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