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      Guidelines and Netiquette   03/28/2017

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Tim Munyon

No access to CSS

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It seems that as time passes, more and more HTML tags are deprecated with the note:

"The [???] attribute of <???> is not supported in HTML5. Use CSS instead."

The problem with that approach is that there organizations that create and maintain Knowledge articles or wiki sites, where the tool and tool output is owned and managed by a third party. I work as a writer at an international company, creating and updating knowledge base articles all the time. My company is in a contract arrangement with a third party who provides the CRM software, the CRM database, and the knowledge base tool.

We have asked to make modifications to the CSS, but the third party company will not permit it, because the CSS governs more things than just the knowledge base articles.

I realize situations like our may not be the "norm," but there must be others experiencing the same thing. Every time W3C deprecates another HTML tag and says "Use CSS instead," people whose output is controlled by a third party are left out in the cold.

What do you expect writers to do in situations like ours?

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Submit a CSS stylesheet with your work and insure that it is specific to the HTML elements of your document.

Roddy

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We have asked to make modifications to the CSS, but the third party company will not permit it, because the CSS governs more things than just the knowledge base articles.

That's the real problem.  The problem isn't that things like HTML and CSS are changing, it's that you're limited because you can't change the CSS.  The third party company should allow a stylesheet that only is used for the articles that need it.

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I agree with justsomeguy, but we have run into one brick wall after another trying anything we can think of to exercise control over the knowledge base articles.

All the third party has to say is, "It will cost $[number] for the enhancement," and the request is off the table.

You all know how many budget dollars are typically available to enhance the authoring tool for knowledge articles, right? (It's usually last priority.)

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So you can't just strip out all the problem coding, to use your own cleaned version, with your own css. I mean you could have original as well, as a link.

Edited by dsonesuk

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We created the CSS we wanted, and sent it to the "owner" of the knowledge base and governing CSS file. The silence was deafening. The provider did not want to change the "out-of-the-box" code for any reason.

The internal stylesheet solution is also not available to us, because the <head> tag is not one of the tags allowed. (If we try to create a <head> tag with internal stylesheet information, the system deletes it when we publish the knowledge article.)

Bottom line: There are some users of HTML that have no control over the css. Deprecating useful tags and telling users to put the information in the CSS is not going to work for everyone.

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Bottom line: There are some users of HTML that have no control over the css. Deprecating useful tags and telling users to put the information in the CSS is not going to work for everyone.

With all due respect, when these standards are created they are done so with the assumption that any content creator can use them appropriately.  You are dealing with additional constraints imposed by some other entity, and that is out of the scope of the standards committees.  The people developing the standards need to make the best choices for the standards rather than cater to a small subset of users who don't have control over their own environment.  There's no reason that the standards should be held back just because there are some people out there who can't make CSS changes for whatever reason.  That's a problem for you to solve on your end, that's not a problem that the standards committees are working on.

The actual bottom line is that each part of a web page has its purpose.  HTML defines the structure of the document.  CSS is used for the appearance.  There is a separation there, and it's there for a reason.  Don't expect that to change.  It's unfortunate for you that your client doesn't have the foresight to design their software so that it's flexible like that, but that's not a problem for the standards committees. 

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