Re: Netscape & New HTML

Dylan Northrup (
Fri, 21 Oct 1994 18:20:19 -0400 (EDT)

Before I start to reply, let me just state this:

I am glad that Mcom did what they did (even if they went about it
the wrong way). They implemented features that people wanted. If
they'd have waited for a standards committee to complete the HTML 2.0
spec I doubt Netscape would have been released anytime before next year
if then.

The Netscape extensions are not set in stone (they've only
released a beta). They might change if there was a intelligent,
reasonable suggestion for the change. I'm quite sure if the
HTML3 group would make some decisions and submit a final draft
the guys at netscape would be more than happy to look at it.
Perhaps then the HTML3 guys will finally get around to doing some
work on HTML3, ne?

Now, on to the responses:

On Fri, 21 Oct 1994, Brian Behlendorf wrote:

["HTML is big, PostScript is small. Let's just make HTML more powerful
and use it" paragraph deleted]

> I disagree. If you start dangling the carrot of page-layout to document
> authors, they won't be happy until they have complete, *complete* control
> of how it looks. Adding tags every once in awhile to approach a page
> layout language just isn't going to work - give them <center> now, give
> them <font> later, give them <pitch> and <indent> and <color> after that,
> and pretty soon you have something that functions a whole lot like
> PostScript.

I believe you are right that some people (servers) will want to have
complete control over how their documents are presented however there
will also be people (clients) who will have the fnal say about how they
view the file ("I hate 'san serif'. Mothra, my WWW viewer automatically
changes all the <FONT TYPE="san serif"> to <FONT TYPE="arial">.")

Even if there are <pitch> or <color> tags out there, if the browser
doesn't support the tag, it might as well not be there, eh?

[If netscape's extensions give us what we want, what's the problem?]

> The problem isn't so much a technical one as a social one. Sure, we could
> turn HTML into both a semantic markup language and a page layout language,
> but let's not be half-assed about it.

Aye, but let's not wait until I graduate (which believe me is going to be
a looong time!) until we implement it. I'm tired of waiting. It's been
almost a year since something concrete was proposed/discussed about HTML+
(HTML+ Discussion Document - November 8, 1993).

I realise that standards don't emerge overnight and that thought and
planning must be put into any such endeavour, but this is a bit
ridiculous. The www-html list is more active than it has been in
months. Before that I recieved about 2-3 messages per week, if that. If
this is any indication of the development that has been going on then I
fear I *would* have graduated before HTML 3.0 was implemented (would have
been a hell of a way to end the century though)

> could have hundreds of tags, and hopefully the browsers would be smart enough
> to fill in the details when needed. Though I think we'd have an easier time
> going the other direction, putting semantic information into PostScript or
> PDF, but whatever.

Which would make obselete any HTML documents currently written. I don't
want to go back and rewrite my pages again. But, I agree this is not
really the issue.

> But we're not going to get there a couple of tags at a time, and if there is
> a strong resolution that we want page layout control, (which there definitely
> is), then let's do it for real. The only solution that I have seen so far is
> HTML 3.0 with style sheets.

See point above about time to implementation of HTML 3.0

> And these people will then clamor for more page layout
> possibilities, and gradually the semantic power of HTML will fall by the
> wayside. I mean, who's going to say <H1>Very Important Line</H1> when they
> can say <font size=10>Very Important Line</font>? Who's going to say
> <address></address> when they can write <italics sans
> serif><font size=3></font></italics>? Who will care, as long
> as it looks right on "their browser"?

You show me a Web page that really uses the semantic power of HTML as
opposed to page layout and I'll grant you that its importance.
However, I've not found one in my travels across this widely woven web. I
(and almost everyone else I've personally talked to) uses HTMl for it's
layout possibilities only (i.e. <li> instead of using tabs).

People are familiar with using a WYSIWYG word processors where you use
fonts, tabs, and spaces (not headers, lists, and breaks). It's only
natural that as the Web made it's way into the public, people would try
to reshape it into what's familiar to them ("What do you mean it doesn't
let me put two spaces between my sentences?"). Most people are worried
about the general appearence of their document, not the logical style.

> Does the fact that I'm saying this from a magazine that wouldn't be
> in existance without Quark XPress mean anything?

*glances at address* What the hell is that?

Yes it does mean something. Does the fact that I pay my tuition by coding
HTML mean anything?

* Dylan Northrup <> * PGP and Geek Code available *
*********************************************** via WWW and upon request *
* Will code HTML for food * KIBO #7 * <> *
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'I suspected as much. I was surprised when they called me. How far down
the list was I?'
"Pretty far."
-- Garibaldi and Sinclair, "Signs and Portents"