Getting layout right (even if only a structure is considered) with HTML5/CSS3 is still more like an art or black magic.
On the other hand, there are other GUI systems (like wxWindows and Tcl/Tk) and some GUI research (like The Auckland Layout Model, ALM), which hint at the possibility of formalization for the layout managers (geometry managers).
Are there any comprehensible formal models for HTML5/CSS, which provide ultracompact (abstract) way to describe structure, "physics" and "geometry" of resizeable webpages, using language of blocks? Also html/css can be generated from it, which works more or less as described in standard browsers. Also, a model can be derived given HTML/CSS (browsers do it by their algorithms, so this seems to be theoretically possible).
By "ultracompact" and abstract it is understood: much more compact than HTML/CSS and also more domain-oriented, "speaking" the language of webpage's dynamics in response to resizing or changed content, that is, higher level than HTML/CSS constructs.
For an analogy, it is possible to write a program to make a textual search, based on some complex rules, but the same task can be performed by a much more compact regular expression. So, is there similar compact language for HTML/CSS layout?
The goals of such a model could be:
- to verify existing design (model checking)
- to build robust design given higher level specifications
- to be a solid platform for even higher level research on qualities ("to check the harmony with algebra.")
Also it could be a language to use for certain GUI-related abstractions, like is usual in programming language domain, where we do not need to use concrete syntax to express an idea of for-loop and we do have all kinds of nice, proven results about main concepts of algorithmic constructions.
Of course, web-browsers possess algorithmic model for rendering, e.g. popular and simplified description can be found here, but as pointed above it does not have the properties listed above.