[xep-support] FYI: Side Effect of XEP's Treatment of Inheritance for Floats

From: W. Eliot Kimber (eliot@isogen.com)
Date: Sun Nov 17 2002 - 06:41:43 PST

I've attached an updated version of my dropped capital sample. This adds
two cases designed to test the ability for the markup to adapt
automatically to changes in the base font size.

This markup scheme depends on the fact that by the FO spec floats
inherit properties from their immediate containers. However, XEP turns
this behavior off, which causes this sample to "fail" (in the sense that
the behavior I wanted and get by the spec doesn't happen).

While I generally think that the reasoning behind not doing the
inheritance is reasonable, there are already enough non-obvious
inheritance problems that XEP doesn't or can't undo, that I'm wondering
if its really wise for XEP to behave this way.

Obviously, this is something of a contrived example--if I was generating
this FO I could easily generate the appropriate absolute font value for
the dropped cap.

However, I'm starting to think that, from the point of view of an
integrator who wants to make code that is as transportable as possible,
that this variance from the spec, while well intentioned, hurts more
than it helps since I still have to account for the behavior defined in
the spec in any case.

That is, XEP's "fixing" a flaw in the spec doesn't help me because I
can't count on it unless I'm willing to make XEP be the only FO
implementation I plan to use, which is highly unlikely for a variety of

Now I have to both remember this difference in behavior (which I had
forgotten until I started writing a bug report post, which became this
post) and learn to code in such a way that the behavior is completely
avoided. It also means that when I teach FO I have to go out of my way
to mention the ways in which a given implementation is out of variance
with the spec. That all translates into greater cost and opportunities
for error and confusion in the use of FO.



W. Eliot Kimber, eliot@isogen.com
Consultant, ISOGEN International
1016 La Posada Dr., Suite 240
Austin, TX  78752 Phone: 512.656.4139

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