My Friday-Before-Labor-Day Diatribe [Was: Frame document structure]

Murray Altheim (murray@spyglass.com)
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 11:08:32 -0500


Message-Id: <v02110108ae4cbcbeb6d2@[140.186.34.50]>
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 11:08:32 -0500
To: Walter Ian Kaye <boo@best.com>
From: murray@spyglass.com (Murray Altheim)
Subject: My Friday-Before-Labor-Day Diatribe [Was: Frame document structure]
Cc: www-html@w3.org

Walter Ian Kaye <boo@best.com> writes:
>At 2:37p +0300 08/29/96, Stephanos Piperoglou wrote:
>>On Sat, 28 Aug 1976, Walter Ian Kaye wrote:
>>
>>> I'll have to re-read that proposal, but it didn't look like it supported
>>> multi-document framesets.
>>
>>Good. This will ease navigation and make things a lot less confusing.
>
>It depends on the particular application. For my Walter's Web page, frames
>are purely a presentational device for a single page. HOWEVER, for my Osax
>Reference page, multiple documents are a REQUIREMENT. Why? Well, you see,
>the ONLY reason I converted that page into a frameset is because the size
>of the reference is going to grow at least tenfold, and I don't want to
>force users to load a 100K page!!! If all was in a single document, it
>would be a horrible experience for anyone not on a T1 connection.

<deep breath>

This is a ridiculous argument. Web documents do not have to be contained
within one single file, nor are frames a "REQUIREMENT" of large documents.
Why would they be? Your requirement of a frame document could have easily
been met by the same method used in countless other large scale documents
on the Web: a table of contents and index referencing a large number of
hyperlinked files.

How often when reading a reference does one need to have the table of
contents (or index) and the reference material viewable at the same time?
With hyperlinking, since it's simple to link back to the TOC, index or a
search engine, why waste screen space? It's confusing to the eye and robs
the user of screen area that could be devoted to the content one is trying
to view.

I have yet to see the "necessity" of frames. IMO it's another whiz-bang
gizmo that makes people feel their documents are more sophisticated. And we
have spent entirely too much energy on whiz-bang gizmos at the expense of
creating a Web capable of building an information infrastructure for our
expanding knowledge base.

The Web is a victim of the same obsession with appearance that erodes the
value we place on true content. An order of magnitude greater effort has
been spent on getting the "look" right, rather than concerning ourselves
with the structure of online knowledge and information. It's as if our
browsers and documents were busy getting breast implants and liposuction,
rather than concentrating on improving their content, personality, utility,
wisdom.

How can we expect the Web to function as a repository of human knowledge,
our future libraries (rather than simply another advertising landscape), if
an online encyclopedia looks the same structurally as Babes on the Web?

Rather than spending so much energy on trying to make our screens jump,
spin and bark, lets all demand greater tools, a greater concentration on
document quality, integrity and longevity, and markup languages to support
it.

Murray

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     Murray Altheim, Program Manager
     Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
     email: <mailto:murray@spyglass.com>
     http:  <http://www.stonehand.com/murray/murray.html>
            "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."