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The future of HTML for basic users

From: Jerry L. Kazdan <kazdan@math.upenn.edu>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 11:30:41 +0200
Message-ID: <485632C1.5000101@math.upenn.edu>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org

General comment on proposed HTML 5.

As you ponder the future versions of HTML, I urge you to keep in mind that 
many people who need to write web pages are very low-level users who 
neither want nor need anything like the subtleties of CSS.  In fact, they 
will refuse to learn it.

The html authors I have in mind are people like my colleagues, faculty at 
the University of Pennsylvania, who frequently need to write basic web 
pages with their homework assignments or other data about their courses. 
For these users, primitive html tags such as
                    <font>   <align>    <bgcolor>,
all of which are _deprecated_ in HTML 4.01, are the most complicated tags 
these users will ever learn.  Many even don't want to even learn these. 
To see what I mean, look at a few web pages for a random selection of 
courses at any college or university.

While the control and splendors of CSS are vital to professional web page 
designers, users like my colleagues don't want to be web page designers. 
In fact, they simply refuse to learn much at all about HTML -- since their 
needs are already met by a very few tags in ancient versions of HTML. 
They have completely different priorities.  They simply want to be able to 
communicate to their targeted audience -- clearly and with a  minimal 
learning curve.  Removing the possibility of using primitive HTML markup 
tags would be a real mistake.  They will simply stop writing web pages. 
For their needs, ancient HTML is not broken and should be retained as an 

Experts at web page design should appreciate that there are many classes 
of users whose web page authoring needs are far different from those whose 
professional lives require sharper CSS tools.   While it is essential to 
develop these sharper tools, one should not deny the possibility to use 
more primitive tools.

Thanks for listening.

	Jerry Kazdan
	Chair, Computer Committee

Jerry L. Kazdan,                      Professor of Mathematics
David Rittenhouse Lab, Room 4E15      Telephone: (215) 898-5109
University of Pennsylvania,           http://www.math.upenn.edu/~kazdan/
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6395
Received on Monday, 16 June 2008 20:13:28 UTC

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