Re: The Final Word On HTML

Sean Howard (showard@visdesigns.com)
Wed, 25 Sep 1996 16:55:36 -0400


Message-Id: <1.5.4.32.19960925205536.00309208@vp.netgate.net>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 16:55:36 -0400
To: www-html@w3.org
From: Sean Howard <showard@visdesigns.com>
Subject: Re: The Final Word On HTML

>- Sean Howard wrote:
>>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>.

At 01:49 PM 9/25/96 -0700, Brian Gaines wrote:
>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.
>

[snippety-snip]

I find this a very fascinating viewpoint.  I agree that it is indeed very
important and very powerful, but I still need some swaying before I can view
it as a programming language.


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

The question then remains: Is this a form of GUI programming?

I will answer the question of the word "programming" later. GUI and Design
are where my background lies (and I find this a most intriguing thread,
thanks!) and I would like to tackle the proposed concept of GUI design with
HTML.

There is no such thing as WYSIWYG with HTML. HTML is a markup language
designed for "tagging" information into categories relating to its content.
While the recent additions to HTML have made GUI design explorable, we must
be careful when using the word GUI in relation to HTML.

One of the many facets of GUI is useability. Unless you demand a certain
browser, the very essence of HTML as a non-browser specific entity raises
serious questions.

But I will state that HTMl will more than likely (from the recent acts of
the w3 as a rubber stamp committee and the infamous actions of Netscape and
IE) develop into a GUI tool in the next few months.

>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.

Agreed. But now we need to look at the word "programming" as it was used
earlier.

A programming language is built around the concept of creating logical steps
with a pre-defined [language] structure to solve a problem. HTML pushes this
definition by assuming that the displaying of the document is the problem.
It fails this definition with the concept of logical decision making.

In summary, the creation of a GUI does not in itself determine a programming
language. Photoshop, Debabelizer and other graphic tools can all be used to
create a GUI, but in themselves are not referred to as programming.

Where the confusion lies is in the entering of tags, the processing by the
browser, and the display of the final product. Is this not the same process
required when a programmer types in his code, compiles it and then views the
final output?

No.

Personally, I have NEVER seen an act of programming that does not require
logical decision making. Until HTML has this construct, I think we need to
look at HTML as a markup language (a form of higher text or early word
processing) but not as a programming language.

In the proposed concept of GUI development, I find HTMl to indeed be a
powerful tool. Further development will probably be necessary, though, (in
my opinion) before it is a reliable tool in this regard.  Right now it is a
crude but developing method of delivering information.

Sean <DREAMING>someone will snip away at my thought process until it is
devoid of logic <s> </DREAMING>