Re: More thoughts

Patrick Michaud (
Thu, 27 Oct 94 11:27:50 -0500

>This also means that naive users are
>going to think that whatever they can do to make their document look right
>on the screen is fine. WYSIWYG.

The problem with saying something like "WYSIWYG" in a web context
is that it assumes All Browsers Are Created Equal. But they aren't,
nor do I believe they ever will be, nor should they be. My experience
with WYSIWYG in almost any context is that What You See Is Never What You
Really Get. In the Web, where communication depends on agreement between
a provider (HTML author) and consumer (browser), it's presumptuous for
the provider to dictate the details of page layout to the consumer.

>I've seen some discussion here about what
>people should and shouldn't do with various types of formatting, but lets
>just assume for a moment that people creating these documents are not going
>to realize the difference.

But the point is that the people who are creating these documents _should_
be made aware of the difference. The way a document looks on the author's
screen will -not- be identical to how it will look on many readers' screens,
and it's a mistake to assume that it will or should be identical.

An HTML author is presumably trying to communicate information to a
potentially large audience and should be aware of the needs of that
larger audience. I agree that we ought to build systems that provide
authors with enough flexibility to influence the display of their documents.
I think it's a mistake to try to provide authors with the degree of control
of the presentation that some of the HTML extensions propose (e.g., fonts).

I think some of the demands for precise layout is a bit of a holdover from
when information providers were -required- to make all of the layout
decisions (e.g., hardcopy). The Web is a different medium where the consumer
has more control over the presentation and layout. As authors of browser
software and designers of the HTML spec, we should defend the new medium
rather than try to make it work within the limitations of the old.

Patrick R. Michaud
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi