Re: Whitespace

Paul (
Thu, 13 Jan 1994 09:10:23 +0000 (GMT)

Marc wrote:

@ > I think people want to be able to transmit the same sort of
@ > documents over networks that they read on paper. Documents
@ > rendered by Mosaic are such a leap forward over the old
@ > flat ASCII titles with images as separate titles that our
@ > collective appetite has been whetted; it's not posters
@ > people want to deliver, it's glossy magazine articles with
@ > sound and video attachments. It's anything that you can
@ > do on a CD ROM.
@ Amen.

I feel inclined to agree with Marc here.

Judging by the (high quality) of work that some people here at Brunel,
and notably the Computer Science department's students, HTML (along
with Mosaic and Lynx (You never can thank NCSA and the Lynx developers
too much)) is being used more and more as a multi-media authoring

Being on a number of other mailing lists, the pressure to incorporate
items like HTML mark up into say an X.500 directory is rapidly
increasing because people have seen what can be done with it. Taking the
X.500 side (since thats the one I know), people want to be able to
include URL's etc into their entries so they can point to glossy, full
colour pages of their work and themselves etc.

I think that to now turn around and say, "No HTML should only be used to
design text based documents" is, well to say the least, it will
certainly slam the breaks on the rapid advance of the Web.

Yes I say the web. Okay, the web has OTHER aspects than just displaying
HTML (I like to use web clients as an FTP interface) but to a MAJORITY o
novice users out there it is really only a multimedia viewing

I think that is one thing that we have to never lose track of. The
novice user.

Its all very well saying lets use strange embeded commands to hilight
text. For example I think that <em type=bold> was one being pushed
around. (Cant recall). But for a majority of novice users, <B> or <bold>
is all they want. Why should they have to remember to implicitly define
all the text styles that they want.

On this topic, while I remember, why is there need for more than just a
bold, italic, normal and underline set? These can be rendered effectivly
on MOST text terminals and all graphics terminals. Why do we need more?

I agree that font size changes in a document would be nice, other than
headers, but again other than say an <sX> or <size X> (x=a number) tag
any implimentation would probably be too complicated for a lot of users.

And bear in mind that many professional text producers will tell you
never to use more than 3 fonts (including sizes but excluding italic,
bold and underline) in a text document before it becomes just too
complicated on the eye.

Anyway enough of my ramblings, I was just getting worried that we are
trying to make things too complicated for many people who are trying to
use the web. I think that, like say some of the DOS based programers
that I know, (sorry if I have lumped some of you in with that) that
develop windows based software we are in danger of making things TOO
complicated for a majority of users.

Looking at that I seem to have prevented two counter arguments. So let
me quickly try and paraphrase all that again:

1 - What is wrong with wanting pictures, movies and sound in HTML?
2 - Simple tags are needed, perhaps with fuller EQUIVILANTS
3 - Lets not limit the scope of HTML just because some people ONLY have
text based machines.
4 - Be warned, too many tag types get complicated.

and most importantly of all

5 - Bear in mind the novice users who write HTML.

@ > I think trying to get HTML to deliver fully-formatted
@ > slick magazines is like trying to make your car fly.
@ > You could probably do it, but why bother when there
@ > are perfectly good airplanes out there? And you
@ > probably wouldn't have a very good car when you were done.
@ >
@ > As stated before, HTML documents are intended to be viewed
@ > on a variety of platforms in viewers of varying
@ > capabilities. Delivering fully formatted documents (let
@ > alone multimedia) in a platform-independent format is a
@ > very tough problem. But Adobe has taken a crack at it with
@ > Acrobat. Instead of trying to get HTML to do things
@ > it wasn't designed for, why not deliver a PDF Content-type
@ > and spawn an Acrobat reader? Let's leverage the work
@ > that has already been done.
@ Acrobat isn't free and/or ubiquitous, and Acrobat doesn't provide
@ network-wide hypermedia.

Going back to this topic (and sorry to hop around, I havent woken up yet :)

I think that slick multi-media fully formated documents is what HTML
_IS_ (ooh, bold and underlined) and that is the path we should be
taking. There are one or two notable missing bits (like being able to do
ruled tables but that is coming (isnt it? I dont have a HTML+ spec to
hand :)

And as Marc says, using commercial based applications is BAD. Imagine
forcing everyone who wants to read HTML to have to buy Framemaker or
Interleaf? No one who didnt have it would buy it just for that.

I do think that the Web relies on a lot of goodwill but it works! Why
hinder it?

Anyways, enough of my babbling. Let me just summarise with my view on
the matter:

HTML is, I think, for slick hypermedia presentations, but it should be
as easy for a novice to create them as an experienced HTML designer.

The usual "Comments?" :)


| Paul S. Wain, (X.500 Project Engineer and WWW/HTTP chappie), |
| Computer Centre, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middx., UB8 3PH, ENGLAND. |
| VOICE: +44 895 274000 extn 2391 EMAIL: |
| |