Re: Shopping baskets (was: Session tracking)

Paul Burchard (
Tue, 25 Apr 1995 03:54:03 +0500

Marc Andreessen <> writes:
> The cookie mechanism makes it trivially
> easy for the server to generate the page that shows you
> everything that's in your shopping basket (cardboard
> box) and gives you all these functions at any time

What puzzles me is -- why is the server involved in this at all?
Why are we developing a complex stateful protocol to handle what
amounts to the customer's private (until the final purchase decision
is made) musings?

It's only the lack of serious client-side capabilities in today's
Web that's keeping you from thinking about this as the client-side
issue it naturally is. Shouldn't we be devoting the effort
currently going into server-side kludges (I've done my share of
this) to improving the client capabilities? From what I hear, Billy
G. understands and fully intends to exploit this weakness of the

> So the neat thing is that we get to use HTML, HTTP, forms,
> etc. as they're already defined rather than inventing
> some huge new mechanism for storing and presenting
> "items in a cardboard box"

Not quite. You're relying on what *I* would consider a "huge new
mechanism" -- adding complex statefulness to HTTP. This is about as
far from HTTP "as it's already defined" as you could get. As the
first two sentences of the spec say, " a generic,
stateless, object-oriented protocol..." And because the proposed
mechanism, despite its complexity, is specialized to serve only a
narrow range of stateful applications, I believe that its costs will
outweigh its benefits in the long run.

Rising to the bait, though, can there be any question that client
capabilities need to be expanded significantly? (Judging from
Netscape's well-considered moves announcing support for PDF and
VRML, there wouldn't seem to be much debate.) People see that the
Web is cool -- but they also see that as an interface, it is still
far from matching up to the ease of use of the prosaic software they
use every day. So we *do* have a huge task ahead of ourselves,
whether we are prepared to acknowledge it or not. And shopping
baskets would be only a small part of the fallout of doing this

Paul Burchard <>
``I'm still learning how to count backwards from infinity...''