Re: Whitespace

James (
Thu, 13 Jan 1994 02:02:15 -0800 (PST)

(p.s. my mailings to this list keep showing up twice... anyone know
what's going on? tx)

On Thu, 13 Jan 1994, Paul S. Wain wrote:

> 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.

I don't think that the Web should be used only to present text-based
documents -- certainly not! The Web is a joy to view over Mosaic, and
perhaps the first thing that really makes the Internet into an exciting
and accessible resource for people. As a matter of fact, I don't think
anyone is really arguing for that.

On the other hand, I do think we need to be cautious about trying to turn
HTML into a page layout description. One of the nice features, IMHO, of
HTML is that the display of the document can be matched easily with the
capabilities of the display device. Going whole hog into things like
specifying font sizes seems like a mistake, from that vantage point. Is
the next step font families? We can provide multimedia authoring -- and,
in fact, have -- without giving the author ultimate control over the

In fact, not providing ultimate control is well in keeping with the
argument about making HTML accessible for novices. I'd be willing to
wager that a lot of documents that people have put together look a heck
of a lot nicer when Mosaic renders them, then if people had been
responsible for their own type-setting, etc. Remember the early days of
the Macintosh?

> 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 can see points to this argument -- I think I'm a little less opposed to
the use of these tags now then I was a few days ago. Another strong
argument for this is Dave Raggett's point about logical types being a
bottomless pit. On the other hand, I find the concept of logical types
to be really fascinating...

> 3 - Lets not limit the scope of HTML just because some people ONLY have
> text based machines.

I don't think we should limit the scope, but I also don't think we should
forget them, either. A well composed document -- even if it takes
advantage of graphics and sounds -- would still be useable on a vt100
screen, I should hope. So, at the level of the text itself, it makes
sense to not have tags that don't translate well to a vt100 screen.
Graphics and sounds are understandably a whole 'nuther ball game that the
Lynx users (for instance) or going to miss out on.

Plus, before we get to chauvinistic about our sophisticated graphical
browsers, let's bear in mind that most of those novice users probably
have no access to them. At Willamette, for instance, we've got a grand
total of one x-term, and a whole heck of a lot of Macs and PC's. Most of
our Internet users are using it through a Unix environment (since the
main use of the Internet around here is e-mail, which our Sun handles),
and their primary use of the Web is probably going to be through Lynx.
Heck, nobody ever uses our Macintosh gopher clients, either!

> 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.

This is probably an issue that will best be solved with the eventual
development of WYSIWYG (aren't acronyms wonderful?) authoring tools.

Anyway, I'll shut up now, and sit back down again, now that I've struck
my blow for the poor defenseless Lynx user :).



/ (James) Eric Tilton, Student AND Student Liaison, WITS \
\ Class of '95 - CS/Hist -- Internet - /
<a href="">ObHyPlan!</a>, chock fulla
<a href="">Fun Stuff!</a>