Re: HTML4.0 draft: comments re: inclusion of frames

J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere (delabeau@iwa.gsfc.nasa.gov)
Fri, 22 Aug 1997 09:21:50 -0400


Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 09:21:50 -0400
Message-Id: <199708221321.JAA09447@iwa.gsfc.nasa.gov>
From: J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere <delabeau@iwa.gsfc.nasa.gov>
To: drmarsh@bigfoot.com
CC: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: HTML4.0 draft: comments re: inclusion of frames


David Marsh writes:
> I wish to express, in the strongest terms, my concern that frames should
> not be allowed to enter the rulebook of standard HTML.

I, too, dislike frames in nearly all circumstances.  However, would
excluding them from the spec simply encourage vendors to retain them as a
non-compliant feature and perpetuate the site-best-viewed-with-my-browser
plague?

> While it may be useful for authors to incorporate independently scrolling,
> permanently 'visible' navigation bars, similar to those proposed in the
> BANNER element of the obsolete HTML3.0, at present, many websites which
> incorporate frames do so in a very reader-unfriendly manner, and in
> particular, force the layout preferences of the *author* onto the reader,
> which is completely against the aims of HTML.

Granted, but such authors will always engage in hostile practices regardless
of the spec.  I'd rather see a poor frames implementation than an image of
text or a PDF document.

> It is still common for frames not to be correctly handled on a large
> number of browser clients, particularly Lynx and its audio and braille
> browser descendents for readers with vision impairments.  In fact, it is
> only within the past few months that frame-aware browsers have become
> available on my platform of choice.

The state of the web for users without full-featured UAs is lamentable.
Nevertheless, might including frames in the spec encourage
text/audio/braille UAs to find ways to present them appropriately?

> * Many web authors point blank *refuse* to incorporate meaningful
> <NOFRAMES> data in their documents, other than the sarcastic and
> deprecating "Get Netscape" comment

The spec could require that the content within a frame actually be within
the source document rather than in a separate one.  For example, text in a
<table> can be displayed, but perhaps not prettily, by any UA that simply
ignores the unkowns tags.  Similarly, dropping the syntax

	<frame src="document1.html">
	<frame src="document2.html">
	<noframes>Useless message,or duplicate copy
	 of documents1&2.html</noframes>

in favor of

	<frame>Contents of frame 1</frame>
	<frame>Contents of frame 2</frame>

would have one cost--incompatibility with existing implementations--and
several benefits:

	1. All text would appear within the document, thus reducing the
	   number of retrievals over the network.
	2. All UAs would see the text, and presumably be able to render it.
	3. Framesets would be required to be redefined on each framed page,
           preserving the document model of the web and eliminating the
           problems with navigation, bookmarking, and framing of other sites
	   endemic to frames.

--Jeff


  = J-F Pitot de La Beaujardiere
  = delabeau@iniki.gsfc.nasa.gov
  = http://globe2.gsfc.nasa.gov/