Re: coupla html+ possibilities

Thomas R. Bruce (
Sun, 4 Jul 1993 07:54:38 -0400


There are some things I like a lot about the idea of a stock library
of "imagelets". I'm still VERY mindful of the plight of
those who get to the Web via low-speed mechanisms like SLIP, since it
takes in roughly 99.99% of attorneys in private practice and most of
what you might call the "home" market. My
thought was that if and as inlined images were added to Cello, I was
going to give users the option to have an "images automatically/images
by demand" switch, just to get around the delays inherent in pumping
large graphics files around at SLIP speeds. (Incidentally I'd also
thought about having some Mac-ish bullets for Gopher menu items in
Cello and put it in the "nice to have someday" list. I'll get to it.

But before the shooting starts over "which images should we all
support and what should they be" permit me to make an observation and
a modest proposal. As Marc implies by his list there are a few
(hopefully as few as possible) stock icons and bitmaps associated with
the underlying protocols supported by the Web -- bitmaps associated
with all the Gopher data "types", a file folder and a directory symbol
for FTP (which you need for Gopher anyway) and maybe some sort of
group and article symbol for the News. I submit that any and
all other "stock imagelets" above and beyond this should be the
responsibility of the publisher to distribute as a package; otherwise
we'll be arguing until h--l freezes over about what should and
shouldn't be part of the "standard bitmap library". What I'd like to
see is a way of specifying -- for an image or anything else -- is a
way of saying "this is something that you should transfer across the
Net once and keep locally forever if possible".

For instance, suppose I'm offering some sort of periodical which
frequently uses a particular set of imagelets known and used by a
particular professional group, or even something with which my
audience is familiar and has come to expect in an equivalent print
publication. A lot of legal publishers use specialized bulleting
characters or footnote symbols in this way -- for example, West
Publishing's little image of a key, used to indicate a reference to
their key numbering system. What I would do ideally is put a link
somewhere where my readers would all see it which would transfer the
imagelet library _for my publication_ to their host once and leave it
available to them for all time. But on the off chance that they would
be too lazy/impatient to do this right off, I would want to flag
imagelets in subsequent texts as "library images" so that the reader
could transfer them as they were encountered, but hang on to them more
or less forever, independent of whatever caching scheme is in use on
their browser.

Incidentally, this would also allow publishers who want to do some
experimentation on the Net but are nervous about affecting their print
business to do some interesting tinkering with the Net product -- you
could offer "text only" and "text with imagelets" as two diferent
services, with the image library being shipped to the user directly in
return for (here comes the lynching party, Tom) -- er, uh, money.

Within a couple of days we expect to make a general announcement of an
experiment which we have undertaken with The Nasdaq Stock Market, in
which we're electronically distributing a quarterly publication of
theirs called the <I>Financial Executive Journal</I>. This idea is
something which would have come in amazingly handy in putting that
together. It became very clear to me in talking to them that many
publishers, particularly those who deal with a fairly restricted
audience of professionals, have spent a lot of time developing
graphical cues in their publications which through repeated usage have
acquired a lot of meaning which may be difficult or impossible to
capture in generic markup. You need the imagelet itself, and you need
it often, since these things tend to appear many times in a document
and series of documents. Marc's idea, with some refinements, would
answer this need.

Incidentally a not-quite-finished version of the Nasdaq thang is at


|  Thomas R. Bruce          |
|  Research Associate                                         |
|  Cornell Law School                     Voice: 607-255-1221 |
|  Myron Taylor Hall                        FAX: 607-255-7193 |
|  Ithaca, NY 14853                                           |