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[W3-dev] Introduction

From: Tim Cross
Subject: [W3-dev] Introduction
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 19:43:34 +1000

Hi All,

I've just joined the list. 
I use to use w3 a lot back in the late 90s, but then stopped using it due
to a number of issues. I'd like to get back to using it now and as there is
a chance I may have some spare coding cycles coming up, thought I might try
to contribute by fixing some of the problems I've encountered. 

By way of providing some background.....

I've been using emacs for just over 10 years. My background is as an
analyst/programmer, but with not much lisp/elisp experience (just enough to
be dangerous). I'm also blind and make extensive use of emacspeak (one of
the reasons I'd like to see w3 move forward as it has a lot of good support
and integration for emacspeak users). 

Over the last few days, I've been playing with w3 again. I've run into one
problem I need to resolve. It appears that w3 is not handling font colors
correctly. While I'm legally categorised as blind, I do have a very small
amount of light perception. If I use a high contrast display with a black
background and light font, while I cannot read the font, I can make a
little out. I cannot use white background as this causes something similar
to snow blindness and is actually painful to look at. 

Currently, I'm running into numerous pages wehre w3 is rendering the
content with black and near black fonts on a black background. This is the
first issue I need to resolve. While I can hear the text, when I sometimes
ask someone to describe what they see on the page, I run into trouble
because they can't see it at all. The easiest example I can think of to
show this is with using google. 

If you go to google and enter a simple search term - for example, iota. You
get back a lot of results, but nearly all the text is either black on black
background or a very dark blue on a black background. 

I've disabled the use of document style sheets and honoring of document
color requests and have tried various options in the default CSS setting,
but with no luck. A little debugging appears to indicate that if background
and foreground colours are not defined for the element being rendered, a
default rgb setting of 0, 0, 0 is used for the foreground and 'nil' for the

My guess is that reasonable defaults are not being set and that this has
not been identified because the majority of users are using a white
background (whereby rgb 0, 0, 0 would be fine as it would be black text on
white background). 

I'm not asking for others to solve this problem and am quite happy to try
and track it down and fix it. However, I'm finding the code and layout of
w3 a bit confusing. Its not clear to me where the defaults are supposed to
be set and therefore where I should be fixing the problem. Unfortunately,
many of the functions and variables are not documented. Rather than just
hack at ths system and likely fix it in an incorrect way, I was hoping
someone could point me in the right direction. My guess is that this
information is controlled either by functions in w3-display.el, font.el or
css.el. If anyone has any rough docs they have put together during their
own attempts to understand the system, I would certainly appreciate them as
they may help me to get my head wrapped around how it all hangs together.

This raises another question. I've seen criticisms of w3 because it has not
used consistent package prefixes on function/variable names (i.e. css.el
rather than w3-css.el, font.el rather than w3-font.el). Is it worthwhile
beginning to change these or is the whole code base going to be totally
re-worked eventually and we would be better off just leaving things until
then? Also, are we still attempting to maintain xemacs compatibility? I
can't run xemacs and this could be an issue. 

finally, I tend to run CVS versions of emacs. Will this be an issue? I do
have emacs22 installed, but haven't run it for quite some time. However, if
necessary I could test with it as well. Just wondering what everyone's
feelings are with respect to emacs versions - particularly as emacs 23 has
substantially re-worked support for utf-8 and other non-ascii character
sets (possibly making working with different encodings a lot simpler?)

Looking forward to being able to contribute and hearing from other
developers rregarding what they are doing to move w3 forward.



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