Re: My 2 grams

Professeur (
Thu, 16 Dec 93 11:28:12 +0100

Dear Colleagues,

>From Scott Fritchie's message:

I've seen and briefly used a Hypercard stack (for the Mac, alas) HTML
editor. It isn't WYSIWYG, but it makes it possible to create an HTML
document without typing a single HTML tag.

Several people are using macros for Microsoft Word and a word-
processor-I've-never-heard-of-before to assist HTML markup. Word
users have been using a program called rtf2html (spelling?) after
saving their documents in Rich Text Format. I haven't tried this, but
others swear by it.

The "word processor" probably is the LaTeX text formatter which is widely
used in scientific circles for paper and report writing. It is a markup
language like HTML, and is well adapted to mathematics. These converters
are obviously extremely useful, but need an extra step and do not add
anything to the basic editors.

I would be interested to know what discipline you teach, Scott. Needs are
going to differ for science, engineering, medicine, humanities etc.

I also haven't used the HTML WYSIWYG editors for the NeXT or using
Tk/Tcl + X.

(Please contact me directly if you're interested in obtaining those
things mentioned above.)

I haven't seen anything about the Tk/Tcl editor. Where is the information
on that one? for now. I imagine something done with Emacs, with a split
screen a la WordPerfect in "reveal codes" mode where the top half
would be WYSIWYG and the bottom half would show all the gorey HTML
tags. If the user pressed the delete key to delete part of a tag
(e.g. the ">" character), the user would be asked a la WordPerfect if
that tag should be deleted.

There is an emacs mode for HTML but I never got it to work (didn't try too
hard). I don't think it is particularly powerful nor easy to use, but I may
be wrong. Any experience with it?

I don't know how useful such an editor would be. (I write HTML from
scratch. :-) I'd guess it would be worth the effort. <Sigh> Perhaps
it's time to use a project like this to get *really* comfortable with
Emacs Lisp....

Definitely worth the effort if emacs supports all that is needed. That is
the first step which I run aground on. I do not want to start on a big
software project until I am convinced that the chosen tools are up to
the job. Been bitten before.

My pet project: To create a process where students submit their papers
to a professor electronically (e.g. email, diskette, fileserver "drop
box"). The professor grades/marks up the paper via HTML and returns
it to the student.

This could be done totally within Mosaic I think. An email message could be
sent using 'forms' (will need a server), in which the URL of the student's
project is given. The document could then be accessed and graded. For editing
it would need to be pulled into an editor and mailed back, or maybe annotations
could be used to attach comments. We tried this a few years ago with a
PC-NFS network attached to Unix file servers, and bombed out because of the
access restrictions in Unix. I would have had to open up my account to access
by first year undergrads who had already shown themselves to be very clever
with the machines. But the above scheme will not require that.

I mentioned something like this to the comp.infosystems.www newsgroup.
Two professors contacted me saying "We're interested." I also heard
from a student from Gustavus Adolphus College who was writing his
final paper in HTML for submission to his Religion professor. The
disk would also include MacMosaic and other assorted tools. Comments
would be done via the "personal annotation" feature.

Trouble is that personal annotation is a document attached to a main
document, rather than little notes attached to the text as would be required
in such a case.

I'd like to see something more flexible, adding HTML tags to the text
directly. I hope to start work on this in the first part of Interim
'94. If you've seen this done before, have started work on this sort
of thing, or are interested in using/testing this beast, I'd love to
hear from you.

Note the recent postings by people also planning (or attempting
to encourage others) to write such editors. If nothing comes of any of these
efforts next year, I may start getting involved. I think it is well worthwhile.

Scott Fritchie, UNIX Systems Manager
Academic Computing Center, St. Olaf College
1510 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MN 55057 ... 507/646.3407

Ken Sarkies

Sauve qui peut, la Grande Panique,
Rien n'est simple, tout se complique.
- Sempe

[8-)# (balding, bespectacled, eversmiling scratchy-bearded me)