HTML is declarative on purpose [was: Web neurons ]

Daniel W. Connolly (connolly@w3.org)
Tue, 28 May 1996 23:09:52 -0400


Message-Id: <199605290309.XAA23060@anansi.w3.org>
To: cbullard@hiwaay.net (Len Bullard)
Cc: john@eco.powernet.co.uk (John Middlemas),
Subject: HTML is declarative on purpose [was: Web neurons ]
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 27 May 1996 10:26:57 CDT."
             <9605271526.AA23037@fly.HiWAAY.net> 
Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 23:09:52 -0400
From: "Daniel W. Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>

In message <9605271526.AA23037@fly.HiWAAY.net>, Len Bullard writes:
>
>  The dead ends with HTML probably
>start in using a declarative root language.

I'll pick on Len because I know he won't take it personally.

But I'm seeing this claim stated more strongly in lots
of forums. It takes the form of:

	"Let's add <IF> and <WHILE> to HTML!"
	"With javascript, you can do anything!"
	"HTML is the MS-DOS of the internet"

HTML is declarative and limited on purpose. If it were
turing complete, the only reliable way to consume the information
in a document would be to "run" it. (Just ask the search
engine vendors who are trying to deal with Javascript).

In order to make folks aware of the conscious decision
behind this limitation, I'm considering reviving
an old essay of mine and revising it for publication
as a W3C working draft:

	Toward a Formalism for Communication On the Web Feb 1994
	http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/MarkUp/html-spec/html-essay.html


Dan

p.s.

>   The HTML
>model has limits that begin to show as more folks try
>to add more functionality and cannot agree on it.  HTML
>should be an architecture, not a DTD.

Fair enough. Yet the burden of proof is still on the folks
that want to see this happen. Stay tuned to:

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