Re: New tags. (fwd) -Reply (fwd)

Paul Prescod (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 11:38:27 -0500 (EST)

From: Paul Prescod <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: New tags. (fwd) -Reply (fwd)
To: (F. E. Potts)
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 11:38:27 -0500 (EST)
In-Reply-To: <> from "F. E. Potts" at Jan 16, 97 08:57:56 am

> I sometimes wonder about this debate over structure vs. presentation.
> For those who are of the opinion that the popularization of the web was
> a "Good Thing," there is no denying that had the SGML application HTML
> not been a presentation DTD, and treated as such by the UA vendors, the
> web would have remained a toy and tool of the scientific, educational,
> and Unix communities, rather than the popular "success" it now is.

Sorry. I deny that. If, by some miracle of technical-purity zeal, 
Netscape had implemented stylesheets in Netscape 1.1 instead of <FONT>, 
the Web would still be a success and most people would "understand" why
structure should be more central than presentation.

The Web might actually be a BIGGER success than it is. Surely one thing
that is going to hurt these WebTV's (if not kill them) is that most 
web pages are designed for VGA resolution as a minimum. I would really
love to see what the Web looks like at typical television resolutions.

> There is also no denying that for many short documents (as MegaZone
> pointed out), as well as for those of Joe and Jane Homepage, this
> "Master HTML in A Week" markup language has served a useful purpose.

You can't really master the presentational features of HTML in a week.
Getting the right layout, in particular, (typically using tables or
frames) takes some time. I do not believe that style sheets 
are much harder to learn than <FONT> for the simple things.

> If I had my way, as I have stated before on this list, we would stop
> messing with HTML (which is basically a silly application, considering
> how easy it is to work in SGML), 

In *real* SGML? I don't think so. First you have to get a DTD, set up
your catalog, learn the DTD, etc. etc.

> forget XML (mostly a marketing ploy, as far as I can determine) 

"Mostly?" Rather hard to decide. Depends on who you talk to. I tend to
think that XML is a useful tool independant of the Web. People have long
used non-validated tagged markup languages that look suspicously like
SGML (I know *I* have). Why shouldn't we standardize the processing of
such documents?

> and focus our efforts on getting the
> infrastructure in place so we can post our native SGML instances on the
> web without having to down-convert them into some lower-level markup
> language.

I think that is about as likely to happen in the short term as Netscape
having supported style sheets in version 1.1. There are so many barriers,
including politics, client implementation difficulty, network performance,
parsing performance, etc.

Anyhow, in what sense ix XML a "lower-level" markup language? It is an SGML
subset optimized for Web delivery. XML documents are "native SGML" and can
use the full generality of "generic markup". I see no reason you couldn't
or wouldn't write your book in it. What do you think it is missing?

 Paul Prescod