> So the HTML spec is littered with "notes" that are essentially
> documentation on the Mosaic parser. But the HTML language hasn't
> changed as a result. There's an up-hill battle ahead, but I actually
> expect HTML on the web to become conformant over the next year or
> so, because in the end, it's worth it for everybody involved.
Hate to have to disagree, but I think there is less than a snowball's
chance in hell of HTML on the web becoming more conformant. At least two
1. The proliferation of people writing HTML who don't really know HTML
(many of whom may be using tools such as Microsoft's Internet Assistant
which itself doesn't really know HTML).
2. The marketing clout of the big players (Netscape and Microsoft) who
really don't care about standards -- except (sometimes) their own.
In addition to these factors impacting HTML itself, we are seeing and will
continue to see a proliferation of proprietary tools to extend the kinds
of things that can be done on the WWW -- Adobe Acrobat, RealAudio, Sun's
Java etc. Java is so powerful that it could become a standard at some
point, but that won't allow it to be used on every platform.
The reality is that the "universal language" of the World Wide Web is --
at best -- going to allow access to only a small part of the actual
content transmitted via the Web. It may make sense to accept this, and
try to work towards ensuring that at least parts of the system remain as
universal as possible -- rather than pretending that official standards
are actually controlling what's gonna happen. Sadly, the
information-rich are going to continue getting information-richer, and
the rest of the world will be left wondering why they can't "click here"
and have it do what it's supposed to.
Please do not take this as strong criticism. I <strong>greatly</strong>
appreciate all the work of the standards committees, believe very strongly
in standards, teach compliant HTML as part of my HTML CyberClass, advocate
standards etc. But, it is an uphill battle. The opinion of MANY people
is that Netscape IS the standard, and that the formal HTML committees will
be forced to go along with whatever Netscape does. I know almost nobody
who is writing HTML-3 -- almost everyone I know writes Netscape. I am on
the content committee of the Washington Software Association -- and I am
not sure how strongly to voice my "opinion" that using <center> is not as
good an idea as using <p align="center">!
Steve Habib Rose
The HTML CyberClass