[webkit-dev] a question on printing: whither WSIWYG?

Mike Fischer mf_software at mac.com
Sat Oct 7 20:14:15 PDT 2006

Am 08.10.2006 um 02:26 schrieb peliom at tikirobot.net:

> Thanks for clearing this up.

You're welcome.

>> BTW. This question has nothing to do with the development of  
>> webkit. It would be better placed on web-dev- 
>> request at lists.apple.com or some other HTML/CSS forum.
> Well, my apologies.  The output was so terrible I thought it was  
> bug in webkit.

OK, no problem.

> I disagree this has nothing to do with webkit:  Is the webkit team  
> aware that when printing half of all the web pages out there the  
> output looks like doodoo?

Yes in that sense it does have something to do with webkit. Webkit  
does the correct thing w.r.t. media types for CSS. Some websites  
don't. (I don't agree with you assertion that "half of all the web  
pages out there" are affected though. Do you have any concrete proof  
of this?)

Generally speaking I'd contact the authors of the websites that  
produce wrong output instead of asking one browser team to cater to  
broken code. (Even if Safari/webkit where to change, what happens if  
you use Firefox or IE or some other browser to print the page?)

Instead you could lobby for the standards to be changed so that all  
browsers could try to somehow cater to broken websites. (OK, that  
would most likely not happen but think about the reasons.)

Another thing to think about is this: How often do you (or people in  
general) actually print a web page? I do this mostly for invoices or  
similar receipts in which cases I care more about the content than  
the formatting. Does this justify making the browser behave in a non- 
standard way? Possibly with side effects none of us have really  
thought about yet?

> Whatever the CSS, having the pages print out in a totally ugly way  
> is just plain silly.    Surely using the "screen" stylesheet for  
> printing is better than no stylesheet at all?

I don't agree with this at all. When I see the media type screen  
specified I assume that the author chose that media type on purpose  
and didn't want this stylesheet to be used for other media including  
printing. The website you had trouble with is actually an excellent  
example for this. Without the stylesheet it prints out in a very  
legible form without loosing any important information. So without  
actually knowing the intent of the author I'd feel safe to say that  
this is actually a well done website (w.r.t. to the printing issue).

> I propose  that WebKit use the "screen" stylesheet for printing if  
> there is no "print" stylesheet present in the source document.

I propose to keep webkit the way it is for the default case.

I do see the need to sometimes capture a web page exactly as you see  
it on screen. There are two mechanisms already in place to do this:  
screenshots and webarchives. Screenshots have the drawback of only  
capturing the visible part of a web page. Webarchives are not  
completely static, as the content might be rendered differently when  
they are displayed due to different plug-ins or a different versions  
of webkit for example. Maybe we need an optional third mechanism  
where you "print" a page while specifying a media type other than  
"print". Come to think about it why limit this setting to printing?  
How about an option to have webkit use an arbitrary media type  
setting for display on the screen as well? It would be useful when  
designing websites for alternate media types, I'm sure. I don't know  
if this would be a webkit enhancement or something to build into  
Safari or both. Probably the later as webkit would need to have the  
actual functionality and Safari would need to add the UI.

How about filing an enhancement request on Safari and/or webkit?

Mike Fischer         Softwareentwicklung, EDV-Beratung
                                     Schulung, Vertrieb
Web: <http://homepage.mac.com/mike_fischer/index.html>

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