CSS Working Group F2F: WrapUp

This past August, the W3C CSS Working Group held its face-to-face meeting in Oslo, with Opera acting as hosts. Despite the long travel for many, we had excellent attendance, with members and invited experts from Apple, Adobe, Google Chrome, Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera and others, including non-member observers.

<h4>Topic highlights</h4>
With a long list of CSS 2.1 items to review and begin closing in preparation for the rechartering of the Working Group, we began the meeting zipping through our agenda. This is very positive, as it will allow us to move CSS 2.1 into maintenance and put CSS3 first and foremost on our plate.

Over the three days, we discussed a myriad of topics within CSS3, including multi-column layout, template layout, the flexible box model - all critically important pieces for the future advancement of layout within browsers. Of course, there was plenty of discussion surrounding features people are currently excited about, including CSS transitions.

<h4>Opera at the working group</h4>
One exciting area comes from Opera's own Rune Lillesveen, who submitted a proposal to create an @viewport at-rule. "It's an attempt at standardizing the functionality provided by the unspecified and proprietary viewport meta tag" explains Rune. Currently implemented by several browser vendors, Rune's proposal makes @viewport "into a W3C spec where we use CSS syntax instead of a meta element." The proposal was accepted immediately, and is now considered a part of the CSS3 roadmap.

Another presentation from within Opera was given by Leif Arne Storset, who discussed hit-testing. "Hit testing answers the question: When you click a point on a page with many overlapping elements, which one gets the event? Browsers have divergent answers to this question" says Leif. "Firefox, Safari and Chrome simply hit the top element. Internet Explorer tries to figure out which element was intended based on background transparency and whether there is content.

"Opera tries to stay compatible with IE," he continues, "but this is difficult since the behavior is not specified anywhere. The hit testing spec will hopefully help us agree on a common default behavior, and as a bonus maybe even allow authors to choose which behavior they want."

Both Rune and Leif enjoyed presenting to the group, a first for both. Rune writes "My experience is that the CSS Working Group is a very competent, yet open-minded, group that are willing to consider suggestions and proposals from outsiders" and Leif felt similarly. "Presenting for the CSS Working Group was fun. As a junior developer I was a bit nervous being the "expert" of the day in the presence of people who had worked with standardizing the Web for almost two decades. But the group was open-minded and took me and my viewpoints seriously."

As a veteran member of the CSS Working Group, I can honestly say this was an excellent meeting. In part, I feel that browser vendors are getting along much better than ever, willing to be far more open and participatory in the creation - and implementation - of the specs we write together. There's some new blood, and excellent leadership as well. All of this combined made me personally very enthusiastic about the future of the group as it recharters and moves past CSS 2.1 and gets entirely focused on advancing CSS.

<h4>All the details</h4>
If you're interested in digging down into various topics discussed, you can check out the public logs. Begin here with the first day's conversation. You can follow the thread for additional public logs and comments from that document. For more about @viewport, please see Rune's proposal. Hit testing? You can find out more by reading the proposal and the accompanying e-mail thread. Finally, here are a few pictures I took of the group in action.