Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity

Dan Hinckley (
Thu, 16 Jun 1994 11:26:20 -0700 (PDT)

Dan Hinckley The EarthWeb Project
Executive Director voice: 303.642.7330
204 Divide View Drive fax: 303.642.7330
Golden, CO 80403

I think you're both right.

Look, the natural evolution of HTML will go something like this: the
standard will grow in complexity until more and more programming energy
will have to be expended to take advantage of all of the features of
HTML++.. Sure, shareware and pd browsers will be available, but
commercial vendors will more and more see the opportunity in developing
browser applications and even browser capabilities at the "OS package"

At some point the level of complexity caused by such a diverse
group of collaborators will scream for a re-design and hopefully someone
as powerful as Microsoft will step up with HTML+OLE or some such, which
will also hopefully (and quite reasonably) be backward compatible with
HTML and come complete with a well-defined API for developers of browser
applications. X-windows developed out of such an environment. Now, there
is so much complexity in X (and I would include Motif, Sun, and MS
Windows as more complex extensions of X), that it has become very costly
to develop sophisticated GUI applications up from the ground of X. But
no one develops user-applications by using native resources to
develop their widgets. Instead they use .VBX widgets and others made
available through the richness of Microsoft (et. al.) API toolkits. Have
you seen some of the apps non-sophisticated programmers are writing with
Visual Basic?

My point is this: get HTML out there, allow the complexity to grow.
Insure that browser-developers can develop simple applications (by
allowing them to ignore such things as HTML+ extensions), but leave room
for just about anything some browser developer with a great idea wants to
throw into the bag (including, yes, formatting). The more richness and
complexity we try to add, the more issues will be raised, and the more
users, their appetite whet by what they see will begin to imagine -- and
then demand -- what could be. It is that general, public notion of what
could be which will most influence the next, commercial generation of web
browser software, and the API tools we'll have available to us down the

A final note: "down the road" is probably much closer than many of us
think. PC Week (6/6:8) notes that DEC has announced bundling Mosaic with
its NT based workstations, and IBM "is going to put Internet access in
the box." As a group, perhaps the most important thing we can be doing
to influence the success of HTML/HTTP standards is to be working with
Microsoft now, rather than later.

If anyone knows the right contact @Microsoft to invite into our
collaboration, please let me know.

On Wed, 15 Jun 1994, Ken Fox wrote:

> > >We really need to think about who in the industry is in the best
> > >position to implement/control monolithic standards and monolithic browsers.
> > >It isn't CERN, NCSA or the community of Web hackers, that's for sure!