Re: What are the problems with IDML?

Daniel W. Connolly (connolly@w3.org)
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 00:20:10 -0400


Message-Id: <199608180420.AAA26414@anansi.w3.org>
To: donohoe@emerge.com
cc: "Christopher R. Maden" <crm@ebt.com>, www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: What are the problems with IDML? 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Fri, 16 Aug 1996 17:57:13 +0800."
             <321437E9.7AC1@emerge.com> 
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 1996 00:20:10 -0400
From: "Daniel W. Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>

In message <321437E9.7AC1@emerge.com>, Doug Donohoe writes:
>
>Is http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/MarkUp/html-spec/L2Pindex.html#META
>the normative document?

No. It's an informative reference guide. RFC1866 is normative:

	ftp://ds.internic.net/rfc/rfc1866.txt

>  It says "META ... Allowed in Content of ...
><HEAD>".  If so, it says exactly what the other
>document says, with less detail.  If not, could you send me
>the URL for the document I should look at?  I'd appreciate it :-).

Unfortunately, the HTML spec won't teach you SGML. For that, please
see:

	http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/MarkUp/SGML/

>BTW, the first document I referenced was found off of the w3 page on
>html: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/MarkUp

While a link constitutes an endorsement of sorts, it doesn't make
the document a standard :-)

>Thanks for the clarification.  If I understand you correctly, the
>following is invalid by the same model, correct?
>
><BODY>
>        <META NAME="fu" CONTENT="bar">
></BODY>

Right.


>So our original statement that META elements must appear in the HEAD 
>section of a document is in fact correct?

Yes.

>Boy, if I can't get this straight (and I do this for a living), how
>is the average web-author, the person it is supposed to help, 
>going to understand?

Authoring tools. Note that HotMetal, IA for MS Word etc. already
support META.

If you expect your customers to play the game of

	"what sequence of characters will get the machine to
	behave the way I want it to"

whether it be HTML, IMDL, or the C shell, I wish you good luck.
You'll need it.

See: 

The Interview
Tim Berners-Lee
http://www.ora.com/www/info/wj/issue3/tbl-int.html

Q. Any surprises at the way people started using the Web? 

I was surprised that people were prepared to write HTML. In my initial
requirements for this thing, I had assumed, as an absolute
pre-condition, that nobody would have to do HTML or deal with URLs. If
you use the original World Wide Web program, you never see a URL or
have to deal with HTML. You're presented with the raw information. You
then input more information. So you are linking information to
information--like using a word processor. That was a surprise to
me--that people were prepared to painstakingly write HTML.

Q. If people didn't have to write HTML, the Web would be different,
wouldn't it?

Yes. There'd be more gray material, more material on the fringes of
publicizable material. Whereas at the moment, it's still a lot of
trouble to publish something. It's not just a question of hitting the
save button. Because of that threshold, the only information that's
published on the Web is information that's of sufficient value to a
large number of people. So World Wide Web sites have tended to be
corporate sites, corporations talking to consumers, rather than groups
wondering what they're going to have for lunch.

Q. The bi-directionality is missing, because people are writing HTML. 

Yes. Writing HTML is like a programming task, it is not a way of
expressing your reaction to something you've just read. The result,
from the process point of view, is that it's remarkably similar to the
paper publishing process, with a great big sequence -- from the idea
to the writer to the code to the publisher -- going through the
bottleneck of the person who runs the server. The original idea,
however, was that it should be totally bottleneck-free, something
between people and information.

...