Re: Netscape tags not HTML3.0 compatible -Reply

Murray Altheim (
Mon, 18 Mar 1996 19:25:24 -0400

Message-Id: <v02110104ad737f8c507b@[]>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 19:25:24 -0400
To: Charles Peyton Taylor <>
From: (Murray Altheim)
Subject: Re: Netscape tags not HTML3.0 compatible -Reply

Charles Peyton Taylor <> writes:
>>Dan Delaney <> writes:
>>>If Netscape, at this point the most popular graphics browser, isn't
>>>going to support the HTML 3.0 standards which we are attampting to set
>>>up, then how will we ever get any standards. [...]
>>I think you might want to back up a bit and do some homework on HTML
>>3.0. [...] It existed only as an Internet Draft (which had absolutely
>>no status as a standard;
>As did HTML 2 until just recently.  Your point is moot.  Draft
>status did not keep many browser authors from implementing
>HTML 2 features long before September.

Moot? I was responding to Dan Delaney's comment about "the HTML 3.0
standards which we are attempting to set up". As to "recently", HTML 2.0
became Proposed Standard on Wednesday, Sept. 27th, 1995. That's about the
same time as 3.0 expired after not having been a serious discussion item
for about six months -- we're now about a year from that time. You might

where the chair of the HTML working group mentions (May 4th, 1995) that
HTML 3.0 was considered a strawman proposal for discussion of new features,
not a serious candidate for standardization. Nothing wrong with the
quality; it was simply too big.

>>>don't want to use. They talk all sweet and innocent "Netscape remains
>>>committed to supporting HTML 3.0" But we all know that that's
>>Enough already on the Netscape bashing,
>"Bashing" is when you insult someone. When you tell the truth,
>I don't consider it bashing.

I won't pretend to apologize for anyone claiming support of "the HTML 3.0
standard"; I hope this was clear from my initial post. The fact that
Netscape continues to use "HTML 3.0" in its marketing should be the real
issue, knowing as they must that 3.0 is not a standard. Their general tone
is support of 'open standards'; the online Q&A document mentioning 'HTML
3.0' is quite out of date, referencing a future release of Navigator 1.1

>I don't want three versions of HTML.  I want an open standard,
>using the powerful features that I and my peers have requested.

The problem is that 'you and your peers' cannot agree on how far HTML
should develop. Should it be a minimalist, structural language, or include
all sorts of presentational formatting elements? What you might consider
'powerful features' might be closer to RTF than HTML, and limit the ability
of other people to view pages. What you might consider powerful, others
might consider ugly semantically. There is no "I and my peers" that speak
as a monolithic group -- why pretend there is?

>>And to answer your question: no -- simply because the market won't sit
>>still and allow the language to stabilize.
>No, it's not "the market", it's the browser vendors
>who don't want to implement the superior strengths of HTML 3,
>like <fig>'s (and the far better means of implementing
>client-side image maps in them), Banners, and style sheets.
>Instead, we get kludgey frames which practically trap the
>user into a page, <FONT> that we have to put everywhere (as
>opposed to putting it in one style sheet file), and image
>maps that are not text-compatible on the same page.

Well, I work for one of those browser vendors. What you call 'superior
strengths' I would call 'unstable feature proposals'. On the one hand you
want FIG (which has been argued to death, with INSERT and EMBED now on the
table), but you don't like FONT or FRAMES. Those are the 'powerful
features' that 'you and your peers' apparently want. I don't get it. How
would a browser developer satisfy both your desire for an open standard and
also every feature that comes down the I-D pike?

As for style sheets, you will see them from us, although I am not in the
position to make any formal announcement. It's no secret that the Stonehand
office (purchased by Spyglass a month ago) is an SGML/DSSSL/Unicode-savvy

>I want to say "this page designed using the features of HTML n", as
>opposed to implying that the reader has to buy a certain browser to
>see my page correctly.
>I am part of the market, and I want an open, non-proprietary standard.

Then we're working toward the same thing. I just happen to be among those
obnoxious, Luddite purists who prefer structural over presentational
elements because presentational elements tend to limit the utility of web
documents using them to browsers (and human readers) who can
understand/view them, a point you made as well. I'd prefer browser vendors
concentrate on quality of implementation rather than differentiation
through featuritis.



     Murray Altheim, Program Manager
     Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
     email: <>
     http:  <>