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W3C shouldn't reinvent CSS grids terminology

Designer, speaker and writer Mark Boulton has written an open letter to the W3C CSS Working Group about its CSS Grid Layout Editor's Draft. Boulton, well known for his work with grid systems for the web, and author of a practical guide on the subject, is frustrated that the W3C is seemingly reinventing terminology used for centuries, instead using definitions for core grid concepts that are "more suited to spreadsheets and tables".

On Twitter, front-end specialist Matt Wilcox said: "CSS is full of terminology misuse when it comes to type and layout, via NIH syndrome (NIH standing for Not Invented Here - a form of corporate nationalism), or ignorance of long established rules". Talking to .net, Boulton also suggested a lack of understanding about existing terminology regarding grids and layouts is to blame, and this was happening "because the people creating these specifications are generally engineers and not designers". He added that it would make sense to keep and use existing terms: "I mean, why reinvent something that has been established for centuries?" and revealed that feedback he's had from the W3C has been mostly encouraging.

That said, Boulton noted he's received some counterpoint arguments, which seem to catapult web thinking back years: "There has been some: 'oh, it's just this way because people understand tables'. You know, we spent such a long time not only removing the idea of tables for layout from a code perspective, but also ensuring our layouts aren't locked within boundaries. Tables create a canvas in the mind's eye. A table has edges and is split into cells. Grids aren't like that."