As with most revolutions, the birth of the Web was very chaotic, and the modifications to HTML reflected that chaos. More recently, a significant effort has been made to reel in the inconsistencies of HTML and to attempt to restore some order to the language. The problem with disorder in HTML is that web browsers have to guess at how a page is to be displayed, which is not a good thing. Ideally, a web page designer should be able to define exactly how a page is to look and have it look the same regardless of what kind of browser or operating system someone is using. This utopia is still off in the future somewhere, but XML is playing a significant role in leading us toward it, and significant progress has been made.

How do you understand that off?

  • 1
    off sense 4b, "(a specified distance) away in time ⇒ "a date two weeks off"".
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


"off in the future" is a phrase meaning a long time in the future. The meaning of off here is similar to "far off", meaning a great distance away.

"off in the future somewhere" indicates that we don't know how far off in the future.

"is still" may imply that the speaker thought we'd be there by now, but we are not.

  • Your answer captures the author's intent. In my opinion, this context's "off in the future" really means "never to be found", just like "utopia" means "nowhere to be found". Ironically, the author did not mean it this way -- but that is because the author's "ideal" is wrong. HTML rendering is supposed to be a compromise between the web designer's intentions and the reader's preferences. (The web designer has no right to say what size screen the user has, nor how large the fonts need to be to be readable, nor what custom software is installed on the browser's computer, et cetera.)
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 21:47
  • 1
    I think the term means more unforeseeable future rather than never, but as a half-blind person I disagree with the author and agree with you that it should be never. I will always have larger fonts than the artist intended to be used on the web page. Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 1:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .