Re: HTML 3.2

Paul Prescod (
Wed, 8 May 1996 14:01:14 -0400

Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 14:01:14 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: (Scott E. Preece)
From: Paul Prescod <>
Subject: Re: HTML 3.2 

At 12:31 PM 5/8/96 -0500, Scott E. Preece wrote:
> From: Paul Prescod <>
>| Why waste your time with the old stuff? Let's move directly to the "advanced
>| stuff". In particular, a "platform for experimentation" will allow both de
>| facto and de jure standards to advance much more quickly. The mass market
>| will get what they want, (<FASTBLINK>) more quickly and the specialized
>| markets (<MATH>) will get what they want more quickly.
>Who's going to build the new stuff?  The spec is useless if the
>community that might implement it ignores it.  

They won't. There is a small community (relatively) that cares about good,
solid standards. Governments, militaries, academia, big industry, some
software vendors and some individuals. Luckily those organizations tend to
have a bunch of money, so that they can keep small to medium size companies
like SoftQuad, InContext, ArborText, etc. afloat.

>There's no point in
>writing a MATH spec unless somebody is prepared to build it.  

Somebody is! I'm sure it would be implemented in Emacs W3, UDIWWW, Arena and
many other browsers. Those that need those features (tens of thousands of
people) will use those browsers. The majority that don't will stick with
Netscape and <BLUEBLINK>.

>already been down the "spec that looks formal but isn't and doesn't get
>adopted by anybody but authors" road with 3.0.  

#1. 3.0 was never a standards-track IETF spec.
#2. It expired within six months. Standards following communities move more
slowly than entertainment driven communities. That's why SGML is still
"gaining" acceptance (though nobody doubts that it eventually will).
#3. HTML 3.0 _did_ have a major influence.

If HTML 3.0 had been improved to the point where it was a solid standard,
parts of it would have drifted into the browsers (as they already were! DIV,
TABLE, etc.). Over time, organizations, industries and individuals would
have standardized on it. They wouldn't do so with the fanfare of "Wilbur."
You might never know that there whole, huge, submarkets of people who had
standardized on it, but they would exist. _They_ are the people that
standards exist for.

Sometimes the "mass market" gets so tired of proprietary stuff that there is
a "mass movement" towards standardization. That is another point where a
solid HTML 3.0 standard would have gained currency (perhaps one or two years
down the road).

>I hope the 3.2 spec didn't cost a *lot* of effort, because I really
>would like to see the W3C moving along with consensus standards on the
>rest of tables, stylesheets, etc., too, but it really is important to
>write down what you're agreed on before trying to agree on somethine

Don't the hundred HTML books "write down" what's agreed on? What does Wilbur
add? The market will go by what those hundred books say regardless of what
Wilbur says.

 Paul Prescod