re: A Modest Proposal
Wed, 25 Jan 1995 18:07:47 +0100

What you propose is already in place. One must only specify what browser
belongs to what file type (file types being clasified by extension such as .ps,
.gif, .jpg, .xls, etc) and that viewer is automatically invoked when the
appropriate file is recieved.
The hype about inlign stuff is that it would be much more useful to see the
equation (or spreadsheet or graph or whatever) in the same file as the related
text than to have to click on a "click here" space and then flip back an forth.
Also, there are no cross-platform standards for defining an equation, or
specifying points on a graph. Sending graphinc images for each equation and/or
graph ties up entirely too much bandwidth and server time for the small amount
of information involved. For instance, a graphic image of a bar chart of
population growth in the State of Texas could take around 60k (not a large
graph, and compressed) while the data involved (the data points for the graph)
might take only 1k. If a document contained 10 such graphs, the server is being
tied up a LOT more than necessary. Equations and Tables have similar problems.
Inlines are a good idea for both the service provider and the client. The
problem is in trying to impliment the cross platform standards to make this
stuff platform independant.
Perhaps there's a middle ground. Most GUI platforms (Windows, X, Mac, OS/2,
NeXTStep, etc.) have some built-in ability to embed objects from one
application into another (or they are getting there fast). Perhaps the
preferable route to take (to keep HTML relatively simple) would be to add an
<INLINE ...> tag (I think this has been proposed) and define a standard set of
"Inline Tools" which a browser could support to allow reading of the individual
formats. If there is no "Tool" for the inline, it is not loaded and instead a
small graphic appears saying that it is available for viewing with an external
viewer (assuming such a viewer is available). The <INLINE ...> tag could also
be used in place of <IMAGE ...> tags.