Re: WWWWW Notes

Marc Andreessen (
Thu, 12 Aug 93 16:26:21 -0500

Bob Stayton writes:
> - The Xmosaic display widget writer was there, and he tried to do an
> editible version. The main barrier seems to be editing structured
> documents. It is hard to define a good WYSIWYG interface for that
> because users aren't used to structure, and visual cues to indicate
> what element the cursor is in are important (but break the WYSIWYG).

This is the clincher. There can never be such a thing as a WYSIWYG
HTML editor, due to the nature of HTML. The editor has to not only be
a structured text editor but has to make it clear to the user what's
going on in the structured text, and not let things break, but still
open up all the possibilities, without being more confusing than
simply writing HTML by hand. This is not easy. I'm not even sure if
it's possible. I tried to come up with a GUI design for such an
editor and couldn't.

I think it's telling that lack of an editor hasn't been a showstopper
-- WWW is growing much faster than other network tools regardless.
(Yes, I agree an editor would be *useful*; that's not my point.)

I also think conversion tools will, in the long run, be more useful
than an editor. Why? Any editor produced in the WWW environment and
given away is simply not going to be able to compare with standard
commercial editors. We are not Microsoft (none of us). Also, HTML
does not make a good base document format; I find it hard to believe
that publishers, for example, are going to be using it as their base
format, ever. A converter that capitalizes on a good preexisting
format (e.g. RTF) and delivers good HTML as an output format for
networked information distribution is much more useful in such cases.

As usual, my opinions only...