Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire

Scott E. Preece (preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 14:34:45 -0500


Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 14:34:45 -0500
Message-Id: <199610181934.OAA29236@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
From: "Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
To: smishra@cc.gatech.edu
CC: snowhare@netimages.com, jaobrien@fttnet.com, www-html@w3.org
In-reply-to: Sunil Mishra's message of Fri, 18 Oct 1996 14:28:50 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: The Netscape / Microsoft / Future Quagmire

 From: Sunil Mishra <smishra@cc.gatech.edu>

| Why in the world would I *want* shockwave (or Java or whatever)
| support? 
---

If you were doing certain kinds of things, I imagine shockwave would be
critical to your use of the web; for most people, today, it probably
isn't.  I said the bug helped you make an informed decision, not what
that decision would be.  Note that I also said that bugs saying what
feature is needed, rather than what browser ("This page best when viewed
with a browser supporting tables and Shockwave as Netscape x does")
would be much more useful.

---
| So
| that I am not able to run anything else on my machine while I download some
| large bit of data off the net, for fear of crashing the machine in the
| middle of the download? ...
---

Again, issues like platform support, reliability, and performance are
part of making an informed decision.  Netscape usually runs longer than
that on our Mac, but I understand the problem.

---
| All software should in the end be mundane, as far as I am concerned. It
| should be transparent. It should not get in the way of you getting your
| work done. That is the ideal world scenario. I don't have bouncing balls on
| my background while I work. At best I have a nice little pattern to provide
| a little variety. The patten in no way interferes with any of the actual
| text or such. That, in my opinion, is quite mundane, useful and
| functional.
---

I agree with the notion that software should mature towards being
mundane.  However, I disagree that there is any connection between being
mundane and the amount of resources or cost allocated to it (which was
the point of my response).  A refrigerator is mundane, but it costs a
lot and eats lots of electricity.  Again, an informed deccision involves
weighing factors and deciding what matters.  I agree that browsers are
too big, but I also believe they don't do all the things they need to be
able to do to really be transparent.  I *hope* that modularity will
allow them to use only resources required for immediate needs, some
generations from now.

---
| You then don't understand what uses of the meta-data I am referring
| to. The uses I have in mind would require the meta-data to be inextricably
| bound to the content of the page. Having an automated agent to gather
| information is the most easily visualized scenario. A page is made up of
| content parts - a title, a logo, a copyright, some text, some footnotes, a
| search form, a navigation bar etc. We recognize these elements, usually
| without any effort, because of the visual layout. For a program to
| recognize them, there has to be meta-data available. The 101 hacks on the
| net are quickly obliterating all this meta-data. Frames completely hide
| relationships between pieces of content. Eventually, the most mundane of
| pages in terms of structural markup shall be the easiest to follow.
---

I don't see how frames hide relationships any more than, say,
subdividing documents into little chunks connected by hyperlinks.
What I meant was that, for instance, a graphic included in a document by
an IMG element should, ideally, have meta-data connected directly to the
graphic itself, so that that data is available to all users of the
graphic.  It should *also* be possible to add meta-data at the point of
reference, specific to that reference to the graphic.  I'd like
indexable meta-data to be attachable to *any* kind of resource, not just
to content inside HTML documents.

---
| \\ Something else I expect, by the way, is browsers that maintain their
| \\ currency automatically by fetching new components ...
---
 
| Yech! Imagine doing that every week over a phone line...

---
Arguably, mature components would not change very often - changes would
be localized in those containing new functionality.  I did say this
depended on modularization reducing the size of upgrades.  I also, of
course, expect higher bandwidth links in the future and agents that are
smart enough to do their updating at times I'm not waiting for them.

---
| 
| \\ The Web is much to young for anyone to be saying "I've found my browser,
| \\ I'm going to stick to it, and I don't want to know what I'm missing."
| 
| No, which is exactly what you should think about before you fall into the
| netscape/msie trap. I have looked at both products on the macintosh, and
| have made a decision after seeing how badly written they are.
---

So, if you've made an informed decision and are happy about it, what's
the problem?

---
| I know what I want from a browser, and nothing out there seems to make any
| effort at providing it. For starters, neither of these products (or any
| other I have seen) make any use of the fact that the pages are in
| hypertext. At best, we are given a page of text with some links to some
| other pages. It is a shame really.
---

This sounds like a much more interesting complaint than "I hate those
'best viewed with x' bugs"...

scott

--
scott preece
motorola/mcg urbana design center	1101 e. university, urbana, il   61801
phone:	217-384-8589			  fax:	217-384-8550
internet mail:	preece@urbana.mcd.mot.com