Re: color: NCSA Mosaic, Netscape, and HTML3

Watkins, Dan W. (tsnbdww@ilusbn01.nielsen.com)
Tue, 18 Jul 95 14:43:00 CDT


From: "Watkins, Dan W." <tsnbdww@ilusbn01.nielsen.com>
To: "'HTML Mailing List'" <www-html@www10.w3.org>
Subject: Re: color: NCSA Mosaic, Netscape, and HTML3
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 95 14:43:00 CDT
Message-Id: <300C0FE7@msmailgw.nielsen.com>


> Which just goes to show that there are a lot of damned idiots out there
> designing web pages, but we knew that already.

This may be a little harsh, but o.k.  Remember that HTML was meant to
provide the ability to design Web pages to non-technical people.

> The problem with the Netscape "extensions" is that they are poorly 
designed,
> and very shortsighted. In the long run, Netscape has done the web a great
> disservice by trying to turn what started out as a great tool into their
> private commercial enterprise. Building a better browser or server is a 
fine
> and noble goal, but it should be done while paying attention to standards.

Totally agreed.

> The standards that are being designed (HTML 3.0, style sheets, sHTTP and 
so
> on) are without exception better solutions than what Netscape came up 
with.
> So now, on top of getting these standards finished and implemented by the
> larger web community, we have the problem of controlling the damage done 
by
> Netscape.

Absolutely.  But the question now is: "can a new browser afford to NOT 
support
Netscape extensions?".

> Netscape didn't have to do this; for example, their addition of JPEG image
> support was perfectly reasonable, given that HTML does not specify what
> format images are to be in and that JPEG is the industry standard for 
photo-
> graphic image encoding. Their bookmarks, their highly configurable 
preferences
> view, their Postscript printing support, and other features, should have 
been
> enough to get them the market they wanted. They could then participate 
(and I
> do mean participate, not attempt to dictate) in the development of 
standards
> such as HTML 3.0 and sHTTP, implement these early, and still have an edge 
over
> their competitors.

I agree with this also.  I think Netscape is becoming a "Microsoft of the 
Web", in
that they *expect* "features" they introduce to become ad-hoc standards.

> If they wanted to do something really useful for web page authors, they'd 
have
> made Netscape Navigator with an authoring mode that would help authors to
> write
> syntactically correct HTML. Instead, they marketed a browser that ignores
> blatant syntax errors and thus encourages people to write bad HTML. The
> problem was bad enough with just Mosaic to worry about, but at least the
> Mosaic team didn't go hog wild adding new tags. They just neglected to put 
in
> any kind of syntax checking, which still led to lots of bad pages.

That may be, but the HTML 3.0 proposal does make reference to "being liberal 
in
what you accept and strict in what you generate".  Again, many Web authors 
are
non-technical and may not understand things like DTD's.  Also, there is a 
lot
of competition right now in Web authoring tools (whether or not they 
generate
syntactically correct HTML is open to debate) and it might be bad to have 
Netscape
throw their hats into this ring.

> Netscape has been operating in a very myopic mode that can't see past the 
end
> of their profit margin, and has done great damage to the web thereby.

> Just because they (apparently) have 60% of the market share is not a
> recommendation for the Netscape "extensions". Rather, the fact that they
> have this large a share and continue to operate in such an irresponsible 
mode
> is a condemnation of Netscape as a member of the web community. If your 
web
> authoring buddies are serious about ensuring the future of the web, they
> should avoid using Netscape "extensions" and instead try to encourage 
Netscape
> to drop their "extensions" in favor of adherence to standards.

You have to give credit to Netscape for dropping their acceptance of 
multiple <BODY>
tags that caused some Web authors to use this "feature" to provide a "fade 
in"
effect when a page is first opened.  But, then again, they didn't drop the 
backgound
color attribute from the body tag.

> Yes, I'm being an idealist here. Right now, the web needs idealists, and 
it
> needs them in large, highly vocal, numbers if we're to get the web back on
> the track that it ought to be on.

> Michael Johnson
> Relay Technology, Inc.

For the most part I agree with you, and have been saying these types of 
things for
weeks.  For more, see 
http://www.interaccess.com/users/dwatkins/dpibrows.html .

D. Watkins
Technical Lead
Watkins Computer Services 
http://www.interaccess.com/users/dwatkins/watkcomp.html
DPI   http://www.interaccess.com/users/dwatkins/dpi.html