Bob Balaban's Blog


    Bob Balaban


    Who uses CSS in N/D apps today?

    Bob Balaban  September 9 2007 03:27:00 PM
    Greetings, Geeks!

    I have to say, I am not one who normally goes around advertising the, shall we say "weaker points" of the product to which I have devoted so much effort over the last 14 years.

    However, following my own motto (OK, ONE of my own mottos...): "Be positive when possible, be negative when necessary", I think I found something about which I must be a wee bit negative.

    I was discussing CSS stylesheets with expert colleague (and sometimes guest blogger on this site) Mark Vincenzes. We were talking about ways in which we might make DomDesigner and the Domino Web engine itself emit markup for Web apps that is much more CSS-friendly than it is today (also see a couple of related blog posts, here, and here). I asked him to teach me about the existing CSS support for Web apps in Domino 7 and 8 (turns out there isn't much difference between the two versions).

    Apparently (someone correct me if I'm wrong, one of the problems with the CSS functionality now in Designer and Server is that it's kind of complicated), you can import .css files into a database as design resources (ok, no problem there). You can select certain types of data objects in Designer (but not all types), bring up the Properties Box, go to the tab, and type style class names (or actual style specs, I think) into the "Style" line.

    I see a few problems with this:
      1) It doesn't work for all of the design artifacts one might wish to style
      2) It's hard to find where to specify what you want
      3) The settings have to be done individually for each element. There's no way to say (for example), "Give me THIS style for ALL text fields..."
      4) And probably worst of all, it's hard to predict what you're actually going to get.

    Caveat here: I have not done any serious experimentation with this functionality, so I'm depending on my friends and colleagues out there in Geekdom to either back me up, or shoot me down.

    I am told that setting a CSS style in the manner described can produce, uh, "interesting" side effects when rendered to the browser. I'm also told that it overrides rich client rendering.

    If true, then the first is real bad, but the second, I don't know, maybe that's how it should be, I'm not sure (the theory there would be: If I specify a CSS style, I want it everywhere).

    So, fellow Geeks, here's what I want to know from you:

      A) Do you use the CSS options today for either Notes or Web apps?
      B) If so, where are your major pain points with the feature?
      C) If not, what alternative techniques do you use to force styles? Pass-thru HTML? Something else?

    We do have some ideas in the works on how to improve things in this area for NMFR -- some are server specific, others touch on Designer. I may well reveal some of those ideas after I get your feedback on my above questions, and when the concepts have been fleshed out a bit more internally.

    Until then, stay tuned, and Keep Typing!