Re: Spyglass HTML Validator 1.0 Availability

F. E. Potts (fepotts@fepco.com)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 13:57:03 -0600


Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 13:57:03 -0600
From: fepotts@fepco.com (F. E. Potts)
Message-Id: <96Oct17.135908mdt.18433@gw2.fepco.com>
To: murray@spyglass.com
Subject: Re: Spyglass HTML Validator 1.0 Availability
Cc: www-html@w3.org

On Thu, 17 Oct 1996 10:58:19 -0600, Murray Altheim wrote:
> 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.

Easier said than done (just ignoring it), for truly usable UAs are in
short supply.  Is not the math community still forced to supply their
equations in GIF format?  Have I not heard comments regarding the
backward-looking 3.2, and expressions of loss and frustration at the
dropping of the forward-looking 3.0?  Still, it is rumored that Sun's
"HotJava" UA will be able to resolve TeX, and hopefully native SGML,
and when (if) that happens I will start feeling like things are looking
up.

> > 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 power.

> You don't need to wait. HTML _is_ SGML. Treat it as SGML and it will
> be SGML. 

Well, sorta -- except HTML's a kinda half-way SGML application, being
at the current time far more focused on presentation than structure
(which is why we have all this "Best viewed with..." stuff going on).
And sure, some effort is being made towards style-sheets, but it is
starting to look as though the "war" is gonna provide us with two
competing style-sheet specs: CSS1, and something using JavaScript (and
I am not even gonna get into the security questions of JavaScript
except to note that this too is gonna be hard to ignore).

> 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.

I still would like to see full-blown 8879 used, with something like
DSSSL-Lite taking care of the style aspects, and UAs capable of
resolving this, for the serious stuff; then we could, with comfort and
good grace, leave the "Babes on the Web" (as you put it) to their own
devices.  But perhaps I am missing something here?

> > 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 denominator?

> 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.

I hope you're right, but I can't help but feel Aldous Huxley got closer
to the heart of the matter in his book, "Apes and Essence".

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

The web will be what we make it, at least in the small corners we can
control.  But <em>switching channels</em> is the wrong paradigm. :-)

-fep

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