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The CSS Box Model, Microsoft & the artist

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This article is really aimed at the computer professional and web designers. The article presents the difference between the CSS Box Model, Microsoft's Box Model and the relationship of those models to those of the artist's concept of Picture. I am quite sure that the differences can also be considered by the interested layman. There is a general confusion leading to problems in creating working websites that are seen by computer users using different Internet browsers. The two principal browsers are Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, but there are others and different versions of,  for example Internet Explorer, that may "render" the web site design in different ways.

Displaying web site pages

Quite apart from the different size of display unit that computer users have there is also a related issue of the resolution of the display unit. I usually have my display units set to a lower resolution than the maximum display resolution. Text size can also be set larger or smaller. These variables make web site creation a complicated task. Very rarely is a web site "page" set to a width with no divisions of the page. Usually the web page is composed of sections, divisions (divs) or boxes which may be created with tables to layout the page or with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or with a combination of both. Web pages may also have divisions created by using "frames" which can be scrolled independently of other parts of the web page. Indeed web pages may use CSS tables and frames and also use active scripts to enable the user to select and buy goods and services or to send information.

The Box Model

The layout of the page is fundamentally dependent on the concept of the Box Model. Central to the model is the notion of "width" Unfortunately, the width of the "box" is confused by the existence of the official Box Model concept and that in use by Microsoft. Apparently, Microsoft was using the concept before the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defined theirs.

I have wasted a lot of my time, and still do, coming to grips with my web pages not appearing according to my planned design layout. The diagram below includes both the W3C and Microsoft's box model and an interpretation of what the box model should be. As a professional artist I believe that both the W3C and Microsoft have got it wrong.

The argument which I feel reflects what most people would consider sensible is derived from thinking about a picture and its frame on a wall:

The box model presents "Content" on a web page. In this argument the picture is the content.

1. a picture exists in a frame (we could refer to the frame as the Border property)
2. a picture, particularly a water colour would have a mount which separates it from the frame (we could refer to this as Padding)
3. a framed picture exists on a wall (we could refer to this as the Margin property)

If I take one of my pictures to be framed. The width of the frame would be the width of the picture plus the mount and the framer would discuss the size of the mount.

My conclusion is that the Artist's Box Model reflects accurately the way in which paintings have been considered in their environment for centuries.  It's too late to change the existing Box Models. Of the existing box models I prefer the Microsoft one as I can easily absorb the "border" element into the Width concept as the border is usually narrow. On reflection it's the W3C concept that has caused business to pay out possibly billions of pounds or dollars in additional website development work. A good reference is Wikipedia's Box Model Bug but I can't see how it's a bug.

On the other hand the Box Model doesn't just apply to pictures or passages of text it applies to every element on a web page. Each word, for example, can be considered as being the content of a "box" with the following properties: padding, border and margin. From this viewpoint restricting Width to content as in the W3C box model makes a lot of sense. Well it does if one contemplates the degree of flexibility this notion provides. 

Can this be Simpler: National Survival 2008

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State education and the invention of the railway is not much more than 150 years old. The motor car came later. The machines were and are dependent on coal and later oil. State education was important as the workers needed to at least be able to read. The environment was being depleted and has been since Roman times (quibble?) much to an accelerating extent.

It is now 2008. And itis now obvious, if it was not before, that the natural resources which were laid down a few million years ago are not going to last much longer. Are we going to quibble about how long? I have read that coal, the most plentiful resource has 300 years left. We still have plentiful supplies in the UK. Uranium - the answer to many to the end of oil - has also not many years left., far fewer than coal. 

Three hundred years is not exactly a little time is it? Well, to put that statistic in perspectve (even if we had a thousand years left) what will we use to provide energy in the future? Well, who has an answer to that question?

I am alive and have had contact through my family with those who were alive before the invention of the railway engine. I have talked with someone- my grandad who could tell me stories of his grandad; thus there was a link and still is from  my grandchildren over the years back to the late 17th century. A time when it was horsepower and wind power that had been our prime source of power in addition to wood for millenia.

So what we have is an opportunity to benefit from fossil resources. But, and but when these resources are gone they are gone. And gone for ever. So what we have had is an opportunity to benefit from fossil resources, lets make the most of what we have left.

What may we conclude from these facts (if you accept them) You know the answer but, owing to the current crisis, should we be even contemplating agreeing to a further waste of energy in non essential works, like new runways for airfields and roads. 


Critical Thinking

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Maybe it's time to publish a category for those who think deeper about issues of a local or national level. Who would have thought that an invention (an aeroplane) could not only fly faster and higher than birds but would also be capable of transporting even incredibly heavy vehicals like a railway engine cheaper than by sea.

However, even this example is dependant on oil. Whilst our little birds require next to nothing. And furthermore these little birds are very very important to our survival.

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