RE:More thoughts

Alex.Hopmann@resnova.com
Sat, 29 Oct 1994 00:02:22 -0500


From: Alex.Hopmann@resnova.com
Message-Id: <199410310240.SAA28687@nic.cerf.net>
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 00:02:22 -0500
To: www-html@www0.cern.ch
Subject: RE:More thoughts

In article of 7:44 PM 10/26/94, Brian Behlendorf <brian@wired.co writes:

>I've taught many *many* nontechnical people how to use HTML.  All seemed
>perfectly capable of understanding the importance of semantic markup when
>explained to them.  They also understand that we're not saying 

Brian,
Let me see if I can try an example of "real world" use of semantic markup 
that seems to be getting alot of use. Then I'll try to reach some 
conclusions.
Microsoft Word:
Microsoft Word has lots of ways to let you format documents. You can use 
styles, which can be very easily used to create powerfully formatted 
flexible documents. You can also do careless character formatting. Most Word 
powerusers that I know use styles most of the time, especially when doing 
something important, difficult, lengthy, etc. Note: This is even in a 
situation where the output is often on paper, which makes the task of Word 
much easier. Once it is output Word doesn't need to worry about someone else 
changing its documents. But these Word powerusers know that they will need 
to change the styles later, or else its just easier to use them in the first 
place.

Then we have a whole bunch of people who I would not call Word powerusers. 
To be most specific, I will use my parents as an example (BTW, they are both 
Professors with PhD's, etc.) They have both by now figured out to use tabs 
at the beginning of paragraphs instead of spaces. But judging from the 
Microsoft Word documentation (which I have just been looking at today), it 
seems like there must be alot of Microsoft Word users who are trying to get 
over the "spaces vs. tabs" hurdle.
What does all this mean? It means, we NEED to provide powerful tools so that 
people can do semantic markup (tools like HTML). I disagree with those who 
claim that we should just use Postscript or something else because I 
understand the power of semantic markup. I just think that in trying to 
provide a user interface that allows people to easily create hypertext 
documents (including "pages", newsgroup "posts", and "mail"... All of these 
can and should contain hypertext AND semantic markup), we find ourselves 
providing users with WYSIWYG editors. And I must admit that for better or 
worse I feel that people expect Word when they think editor. This provides 
us a good model that includes semantic styles, but people also expect that 
they can use a font menu. Our competition has fonts in their email. Our 
previous version has fonts in our email. Now that we are giving users the 
capability to use the power of HTML in their email (And everywhere else), 
whether you like it or not, I can't remove the power to set the font. I can 
educate users that the font might not be displayed correctly (But I need to 
make sure my software gives its best effort). I can try to educate users 
about the advantages of semantic markup. But I can't limit their choices.

>Implementation decisions based on the self-proscribed needs of
>self-admittedly "naive users" by those Who Should Know Better is
>inexcusable. 
Maybe. Unfortunatelly we have recently decided that we need a Microsoft 
Windows version of our software. I thought that the Macintosh was better, I 
still do (Although Windows NT as a development environment is looking pretty 
cool right now), but unfortunatelly 80% of the marketplace disagreed with 
me, is running Windows 3.1, and is enduring AUTOEXEC.BAT hell in order to 
try to save $50 and have compadiblity with some stupid mythical program they 
will never run.
Now you may (and probably do) disagree with me on the Mac vs. Windows 3.1 
issue (Speaking to the general public. I have visited Wired and they have 
mostly Macs, although that doesn't necessarily represent Brian's views). But 
 whatever platform you buy, I want to provide a program for you thats easy 
to use, powerful, and easy to install. I want to do my best. I feel that it 
is inevitable that some of this stuff is going to get used on the web. Lets 
standardize it.


Alex Hopmann
ResNova Software, Inc.