Re: Spyglass HTML Validator 1.0 Availability

Murray Altheim (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 11:58:19 -0500

Message-Id: <v02140b06ae8c117449c9@[]>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 11:58:19 -0500
To: (F. E. Potts)
From: (Murray Altheim)
Subject: Re: Spyglass HTML Validator 1.0 Availability

>On Thu, 17 Oct 1996 08:36:32 -0600, Murray Altheim wrote:
>> I'm sure I'll have to repeat this (I already have privately several
>> times), so I'll shout it:
>I for one am getting thoroughly sick of this bizarre "war" between
>Netscape and Microsoft for "control" of the web.  Like the "War on
>Drugs," it is a war with no winners, only losers, and the losers are
>the innocent bystanders who just want to get their work done in peace.

Then ignore it. It doesn't need to affect you. I'll be giving a talk at the
Software Developer's conference in DC in two weeks on web standards and
where they're going. The future is not so bleak, not because MS and NS are
standards-thinking, but because the natural evolution of the web is
splitting into camps based on need. The academic, publishing, government,
etc. communities aren't being served by this war, but this doesn't mean
they can't get their work done within the "confines" of the WWW. Obviously,
web publishing for this community goes on, almost in spite of the war.

>What I would like to see is the web move on to SGML, and I'm waiting
>for SoftQuad to finish porting their SGML UA to Unix so I can start
>experimenting.  SGML perhaps is the only rational solution possible for
>those who wish to use the web for serious scientific and literary
>communication, and intend to produce work with long-term staying

You don't need to wait. HTML _is_ SGML. Treat it as SGML and it will be
SGML. Yes, we need to add more support for SGML features (such as marked
sections, declaration subsets, and the corpus of 8879 entity sets), but
note that much of this can be done on the authoring side with good tools.
These tools are already available, or just around the corner, as HTML
editors become more sophisticated. They will require these features as
server-side content negotiation becomes an absolute necessity: small
devices and Web TV are just around the corner, and content MUST be
negotiated for these new display media.

>Please pardon the rant; it is just that watching the web being turned
>into a poor-quality clone of car-radio and the most repulsive elements
>of TV is highly depressing.  It is hard to watch the devolution of what
>promised to be the greatest advance in publishing since Johannes
>Gutenberg's Bible in 1440 go sour so rapidly.  Elitist?  Sure, but does
><em>everything</em> have to be reduced to the lowest common

As a fellow ranter, I concur. I just believe that five years from now we'll
see a pretty substantial difference between Babes on the Web and the online
productions of CNN, MSNBC, an online market, the US Library of Congress,
and the corner library. This fracturing is not a bad thing; on the
contrary, these delineated markets will allow specialized support
industries to serve them better.

The real world has all sorts of variance in quality. The Web won't be any
different. Just switch channels to PBS.


    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <>
    http:  <>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."