Re: More thoughts

lee@sq.com
Thu, 27 Oct 1994 12:27:25 -0400


Date: 	Thu, 27 Oct 1994 12:27:25 -0400
From: lee@sq.com
Message-Id: <9410271627.AA02862@sqrex.sq.com>
To: www-html@www0.cern.ch, Alex.Hopmann@resnova.com
Subject: Re: More thoughts

Alex.Hopmann@resnova.com:

> Reading the discussion here, another thought just occured to me: You guys 
> are all really good HTML "coders". [...] I have talked to a lot of people
> who want to create HTML without being "coders". This means that our
> products are going to allow people to create HTML without typing a
> single <h1>.

This is true for us too, and a large part of the philosophy of our
HTML editor, HoTMetaL, is that the users needn't understand the low-level
details of the syntax.

On the other hand, we still try and encourage structure/content-based
tagging, and work hard to try and ensure that the resulting document is
conformant with the (draft) HTML 2 DTD.

Note: The freely available HoTMetaL uses the old HTML+ DTD by default.
      HoTMetaL PRO uses the draft HTML 2.0 DTD.

> This also means that naive users are 
> going to think that whatever they can do to make their document look right 
> on the screen is fine.

Yes.  This means that the user interface has to give users as many -- or
more -- opportunitites to use the `right' markup as the `lazy' markup, and
to have both styles of markup look right on the screen.

In the Authoring Tools session at WWW '94, where I gave a talk about HoTMetaL,
three of us in succession were asked, at the end of our respective talks,
the same question from the audience: `do your users have to type URLs and
understand their syntax?' [I'm paraphrasing, sorry].

It was interesting (to me at least!) that the first two presenters said yes,
users had to deal with URLs.  One of them had the grace (honesty!) to say
that they hadn't seen a good way to hide the URL syntax & so hadn't provided
anything.  We felt that we had to do something in this area, and although
we're not completely satisfied with our URL editor, we do at least have one.
Partial URLs are still going to be tricky for many users.

Why am I saying all this?

I think that once you've decided on a basic approach it's worth carrying
it through as far as makes sense.  There are conflicting goals, and HTML
isn't generally thought of as a structure for editing tools.

It's incumbent on those of us providing HTML creation tools to do a good job,
to help people to make HTML that works, that will continue to work, that
will work across multiple browsers, platforms and media, into sound, into
Braille.

Lee

-- 
Liam Quin, Manager of Contracting, SoftQuad Inc +1 416 239 4801 lee@sq.com
HexSweeper NeWS game;OPEN LOOK+XView+mf-fonts FAQs;lq-text unix text retrieval
SoftQuad HoTMetaL: ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu:Web/html/hotmetal, and also doc.ic.ac.uk:
packages/WWW/ncsa/..., gatekeeper.dec.com:net/infosys/Mosaic/contrib/SoftQuad/