Working on bylaws in HTML and CSS

Yesterday, I spent some time revising the bylaws I wrote for SDCRID so they could be repurposed for AzRID. The AzRID president asked me to do this, because she had heard from a little bird (Rob Balaam, RID Region 5 Representative) that I had done the bylaws for SDCRID. Since there are some interesting lessons to be learned from my work about bylaws and, incidentally, about HTML and CSS, I thought it might be beneficial to share them here.

First of all, my sources for the bylaws were the RID bylaws, the RID Affliate Chapter Handbook Sample Bylaws (pp 238–257), and the AzRID bylaws (which link will probably be broken soon when they upload the new ones). I also consulted Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised when I was writing the SDCRID bylaws. I pretty much followed the Sample Bylaws except when I felt the RID bylaws were clearer or more up-to-date. I also, of course, checked the AzRID bylaws for any special bylaws that needed to stay. That takes care of the bylaws part of it.

I also had an interesting challenge and a gratifying success with writing the bylaws in a plain-text editor (BBEdit) using XHTML 1.1 and CSS. I did this because I wanted tight control over sectioning and listing. Bylaws documents need to be very structured. One can write in all the sections, subsections, and list numbers, but that is a waste of time, especially if one ever wants to rearrange the order of sections and list items. If one does use styles in a word processing program, sometimes formatting can become corrupted during routine editing operations such as cutting, pasting, deleting, etc., and then one can lose the document structure. Besides, I enjoy the challenge of hand-coding HTML and CSS, and I like to demonstrate the power of these structural and presentational markup languages working hand-in-hand.

For those that are interested in such things, I am posting some of the source code below so you can see how it’s done. Below that, I will include a screen shot of how this code is rendered in the Opera browser— the only browser I know of (for the Mac platform, anyway) that renders CSS counter properly.

Here is the AZRID Bylaws HTML+CSS, so you can look at the code.

And here is what it looks like in Opera 9.01 for Mac OS X:

Note that I never actually wrote the words Article or Section except in the CSS, and I never explicitly numbered any of the articles, sections, lists, or sublists except in the CSS. The CSS elements content and counter took care of that!

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