Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity

Ken Fox (
Thu, 16 Jun 1994 13:28:21 -0400 (EDT)

> > If I apply this reasoning to HTML+, then there must be some point at which a
> > browser becomes so complex that very few people are willing (or able?) to
> > implement one. Obviously we are not yet at that point with HTML. (Looking
> > at the popularity of Mosaic vs. other browsers though, it seems that HTML is
> > already hard enough to implement that browsers are not casual undertakings.)
> Several developments will help to manage the increasing complexity for
> Web browser and even viewer developers, including definition of a Common
> Client Interface and ways of "modularizing" the HTML spec.

What's a Common Client Interface? and how does it interact with the HTML
spec? and who is modularizing HTML? The only thing I've seen was some sort
of interoperability or feature matrix. I hope that's not what you mean.

> There will
> certainly always be a place for powerful, commercially-developed browsers
> & viewers, but the situation seems comparable to that for X Window
> Managers, of which there are several very good free ones.

Hypothetical conversation between X guru and user:

USER: Gee can you combine the window border rendering code used in Motif
with the icon rendering of ctwm and then add the workspace
functionality of HP-vue?

GURU: No. Go away.

USER: Why not?

GURU: Because they are different window managers. You have to choose one.

USER: But I don't like any of them really. Why can't I just take what I
want from each?

GURU: Because that's not the way they work.

USER: That's dumb. Why didn't somebody think about this.

GURU: You can't imagine how much thinking people did about this. They thought
it was enough just to be able to change *window managers*. Go away.

USER: You mean we have to re-invent all of those great features inside of a
brand new window manager?

GURU: What's wrong with that? You want it you write it. Go away.

> The WWW
> technologies are, after all, _OPEN_ (as opposed to most commercial desktop
> publishing and/or hypermedia environments).

They are open now. But for how long and to what degree?

> > We could probably say that the goal of the current HTML+ specification is to
> > provide desktop-publishing-like content and presentation to HTML....
> I perceive it as more like "to provide a baseline of content and
> presentation capability to HTML and the capability for browsers to
> interact with sophisticated accessories for more powerful presentation
> modes."

Okay. But people are pushing for the baseline to be desktop publishing... :-)

> > ... Web browsers
> > will start to look an awful lot like desktop-publishing applications.
> I think it's rather that Web browsers + their "accessory aplets" will ....

Accessory applets are a great idea --- and I'd like to see them explicitly
supported by the HTML+ spec.

> > How many freely available desktop publishing tools do you know? Who dominates
> > the desktop-publishing market? How easy is it to make a desktop-publishing
> > application? Who controls the desktop-publishing document format standard?
> That last question is pretty interesting ... I would say the answer is
> changing! The applications you are talking about here are analogous to HTML
> _editors_, not _browsers_. I agree that the realm of HTML _editors_
> will be dominated by commercial products. Let's be real: HoTMetaL is
> really a "loss-leader" for its commercial version -- and I for one
> think that's just dandy, thanks! Even so, I am sure there will
> always be the emacs extensions, etc. ....
> Steve Waterbury

A browser is at least half an editor --- probably the most difficult half.

I was being sarcastic about the desktop-publishing standard --- there is no
standard. There are only a few very popular applications. People have
gotten use to doing document conversions, dealing with different systems and
just generally not being able to share work. This is such a great model for
the Web that I can't believe we couldn't see it before. (*Serious* sarcasm
here... :-)

- Ken

Ken Fox,, (313)59-44794
Ford Motor Company, Powertrain    | "Is this some sort of trick question
CAD/CAM/CAE Process Integration   |  or what?" -- Calvin
AP Environment Section            |