I use CSS too, but it's far from a dream solution: no single browser
supports 100% of even CCS1 (though IE4.5/Mac come very close), and
many browsers are pretty flaky on it -- Netscape 4 is probably the
worst culprit, interpreting CSS in weird buggy ways rather than
ignoring it if it can't do the job properly.
Right, well for a start mine is on an "intranet", and we have IE5, so
Netscape is not much of a problem. However, I also run the company www
site and that _does_ have to work in Netscape.
The way I see it, is that even with all the broken support, you still
have massive control over layout for the price of a tiny text file. I
mean how fancy do you need a web archive to be? You can define one style
for the headers, one for the body, and about a hundred more for
"special" stuff if you want to. I can't imagine you could need more
control. I only use about four styles for my whole intranet but if I
need more it's just a quick trip to notepad.
I don't want to restrict access to my archives to the minority of my
users who are equipped with IE5+,
IE3 and 4 have pretty good CSS support too.
The styles also degrade gracefully (well let's they "degrade"), so it's
not really a big problem. My sites all use frames, so that would
probably lock out more people than the CSS, but from my www logs, 90
percent of people are using IE5 anyway.
But I think there's a more fundamental flaw in your logic: even with
100% CSS support, you can't use CSS to tweak all the features of an
archive. CSS won't determine which elements are there, just how they
are presented. No amount of CSS will add navigation buttons to an
archive which doesn't have them, or site-wide navigation tools to a
page which has omitted them.
Well, I found an easy solution to that and it's only 12 lines of text;
three frames ["choose archive"] ["message header"] ["message body"]. All
other links are stripped out. My non-tech boss loves it, and asked me
why all web sites can't be so simple.
The only stumbling block in the UI part of my system is that there's no
facility for "multipage", so I rorate the archives once per year to keep
the index at a reasonable size. Again this is where a database comes
into it's own; you can request just the chunk of messages you want,
instead of having to view all of them.
Gerry Hickman (London UK)