browser enhancement suggestion

H&kon W Lie (
Sat, 25 Mar 1995 07:17:59 +0500

Brian Behlendorf writes:

> It occurred to me that a more general solution to all this would be if
> browsers implemented a cron-style auto-fetch functionality - where I could
> say "fetch this URL every day at 3pm and let me know if it changes". The
> browser would present the fetched pages in a menu the same way a mail reader
> presents mail messages.

While one could implement this functionality quite easily today, I
think browsers will need to free themselves from the tyranny of the
mouse before we see real solutions. The current user interface
metaphors on our desktops demands user interaction in order to take
any action. While cron remains with us (and may have a glorious future
ahead) browsers have little concept of time and the age of
information. They hardly know anything about the importance and
preferred presentation of documents, Also, they don't have any idea of
what else your screen is filled with at 3pm. All this makes it hard to
create a decent solution that you would recommend beyond this mailing

My attack angle towards these issues is style sheets. By hinting to
the browsers how information should be presented we can give browsers
a better basis for making presentational decisions. The style sheet
language should be able to address aspects other than the obvious
visual ones. In my style sheet proposal (available through on can e.g. attach
presentation parameters to the age of the document (I hope to have
this feature implemented in Arena soon). Allowing the user to specify
when certain information should be presented is an interesting


Hakon W Lie, WWW project CERN, CH-1211 Geneva 23