ERCIM News No.25 - April 1996 - CLRC

The World Wide Web Consortium announces Web Style Sheets

by Bernard Hidoine

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a major step in building a coherent World Wide Web. As part of a W3C convergence initiative, Consortium members have agreed to develop a common way of integrating style sheets into the Web's hypertext documents.

The W3C exists to realise the full potential of the World Wide Web, the universe of network-accessible information. It operates by providing a neutral forum and developing common protocols and reference code. The W3C is an industry consortium hosted by MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science and INRIA. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; a reference code implementation to embody and promote protocols; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. Membership is open to any organization. To date, the Consortium comprises more than 130 organizations.

Currently, content providers do not have the control they have in print media over colour, text indentation, positioning, and other aspects of style. A style sheet language offers a powerful and manageable way for authors, artists and typographers to create the visual effects they want. The style sheet efforts will be based on Hakon Lie's Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) initiative, to be further refined by a group of experts within the W3C.

The main document format on the Web, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), was intentionally designed as a simple language that valued document structure over document presentation. The enormous commercial interest in the Web has called for enhanced presentations.

John Ludwig, Vice President of the Internet Platform and Tools Division at Microsoft:
"Microsoft is pleased that W3C is driving the style sheets standardization efforts on the Web. We are fully committed to supporting the style sheets initiative in all of our Internet efforts."

Jeff Treuhaft, Senior Product Manager at Netscape:
"As the Web continues to expand, content developers will need the technology to accurately present their information to the broadest possible audience. Style sheets will assure this presentation in today's cross-platform environment and we're very supportive of W3C taking a lead role in defining this technology."

Alain Pierrot, Electronic Publishing Manager of Hachette Livre:
"Hachette Livre, creator, owner and provider of information, strongly supports publishing technologies based upon the style sheets paradigm. Style sheets allow for optimization of content processing and provide for portability on any type of medium."

Tim Berners-Lee, Director of W3C:
"Style sheets nicely combine structured documents with great-looking screens. A widely deployed style sheet format will ensure interoperability on the Web."

Bertrand Mélèse, President of Grif:
"The definition of a common style sheet format for HTML documents will offer significant advantages over the numerous proprietary solutions which currently exist on the Web. We are pleased to be involved in the development of the standard and look forward to adding support for CSS in our HTML authoring tools."

George Lynch, Imaging Program Manager of Hewlett-Packard:
"Web authors should be confident that their documents will look as good ­p; or better ­p; on paper as they do on computer screens, style sheets are a key first step in achieving this. HP is a strong supporter of the W3C to create open industry standards such as this."

T. V. Raman of Adobe Systems:
"Visually impaired Web users may need increased font sizes and will be among the first to benefit from style sheets. Also, CSS provides a framework for speech style sheets. By describing intonation, pauses and other components of speech along with non-speech sound cues, a style sheet can produce rich aural presentations." Raman himself is blind and is currently using his prototype implementation of speech style sheets to access the Web.

Briand Sanderson, Technical Program Manager for NCSA Mosaic:
"NCSA is committed to supporting style sheets in its Mosaic browser, and to helping to develop and support all industry standards for use in Web technology. CSS is an important step forward in interoperability on the Web. This exciting technology will allow publishers the layout flexibility that has been needed since the beginning, without sacrificing the important principles of document structure that HTML and SGML provide."

W3C on the web:
The CSS working draft is available from

Please contact:
Håkon Lie ­p; INRIA
Tel: + 33 9365 7771

Please contact:
Keith Jeffery - CLRC
Tel: +44 12 35 446103

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