Re: The Final Word On HTML

Brian Gaines (
Wed, 25 Sep 1996 13:49:16 -0700

Message-Id: <v03007808ae6f48567163@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 13:49:16 -0700
From: Brian Gaines <>
Subject: Re: The Final Word On HTML

>I probably get two or three messages a weeks stating that HTML is indeed a
>programming language off of my Ten Commandments.
>I think the number one "hint" that HTML is NOT a programming language is
>that it is a "HyperText MARKUP Language"  <s>.

It is a distinction without a difference. HTML is a formal language and
it can viewed as a programming language for a certain (very important
and very powerful) form of graphic user interface.

This is the basis of its use in client-server systems on intranets and
it is a major contribution to the technology of such systems. Document-oriented
interfaces overcome the rigidity of classical GUI's and are supporting
the development of new types of system.

However, none of this indicates that the "programming language" has to be
extended to encompass every aspect of a multimedia interface. There is
a spectrum of possibilities between HTML level 2 and C++, and the debates
over particular extensions are about what features might be generically
useful and what might be best left to specialist extensions.

Javascript and Java plugins address computational extensions and Shockwave
etc addresses multimedia extensions.

The strength of HTML as a GUI programming language is that it supports such
extensibility, and hence supports modern component-based software design.

It is remarkable that this has been possible while retaining the original
facilities to present high-quality documents. What has been achieved is
a digital extension of print document technology to become something that
subsumes it and is very much more powerful.


Dr Brian R Gaines               Knowledge Science Institute
                                University of Calgary         Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
403-220-5901  Fax:403-284-4707