Re: HTML 3.2 -Reply

Scott E. Preece (
Thu, 9 May 1996 14:51:32 -0500

Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 14:51:32 -0500
From: (Scott E. Preece)
Message-Id: <>
In-Reply-To: Charles Peyton Taylor's message of Thu, 09 May 1996 11:26:51 -0800
Subject: Re: HTML 3.2 -Reply

 From: Charles Peyton Taylor <>
| IMHO, the W3C lost leadership.  I'm not sure what
| leadership it had, actually.  I know I first saw <div>
| in HTML 3, and that's about it. Perhaps it will gain 
| leadership, but I don't see how Wilbur puts it in a 
| better place.  

Wilbur has nothing to do with leadership.  It's a statement of
what is.  The W3C has also posted a bunch of documents about
work in progress that clearly *is* leadership and is in a position
to converge on standards much faster and more effectively than
the previous IETF approach, which was clearly spinning furiously
in place.

It is quite possible, for instance, that by the time OBJECT is
proposed for formal standardization, most of the major browsers
will have implemented it, in compatible ways.  And that Frames will
be standardized in a nice, stylesheet-friendly way.

I *hate* the idea that the standards are being drafted in private,
where non-members can't participate (I *hope* the Consortium is at
least involving some of the more visible non-member experts, but
have no way of knowing).  Like everybody else on thiis list, I'd like
to be helping form those standards.  But I also recognize that
architecture can't be done by 50 people at once, let alone 1000,
and that the W3C members have good reason to avoid public airing of
their early attempts (HTML 3.0 is a good example of how a draft can
become perceived to be a committed standard despite having no official

| What's new in 3.2 other than "Official" acknowlegement? 
| Microsoft had already written a (beta) dtd.

Nothing, and that's *exactly* the point.

| Why is having an official W3C dtd so great?

Well, it gives you something to point a validator or authoring
tool at, which is a lot of the point of having standards.
| Taking into consideration your comments on the 
| commercial nature of HTML, and the direction 
| Wilbur takes us, I wonder if "official" HTML 
| will satisfy educational, military, and 
| research/scientific needs.

I wouldn't expect it to.  I agree with Paul Prescod that we need
an approach that gets full SGML/DSSSL support available.  I believe
that has to be as a plug-in or Java tool, so that it can be used
within, rather than instead of, the mainstream browsers.
| Why implement *anything* that is done by
| the W3c if it's not implemented by whoever makes the 
| dominant browser (right now it's Netscape, next year it 
| could be Microsoft's, or even Oracle's.)

Because the folks writing the W3C drafts are the people defining where
those maintstream browsers are going.  It's pretty reasonable to guess
that stylesheets and OBJECT are coming in the fairly near future,
because the people who are writing the public spec are also the people
[or at least work for the same bosses as the people] implementing
the spec.

Look at the OS interfaces standardization arena.  Posix never had a
prayer of reaching the scope that X/Open and the X Consortium, which
have the same kind of members-only process as W3C, could.  A
membership-supported organization can devote resource to doing the work
that takes forever in a volunteer process and the member organizations
have an incentive to devote staff to concentrating on the work, rather
than thinking about it a couple of days before periodic meetings.  And
the working groups can be small enough and expert enough that they can
move much faster, with much less hunting.

It's too early yet to know whether W3C will be able to succeed at
getting standards out as effectively as those organizations, but it's
certainly worth a try.


scott preece
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