Re: HTML 4.0 draft available

Scott Matthewman (
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 16:34:08 +0100

From: (Scott Matthewman)
To: "jptxs" <jptxs@IDT.NET>
Cc: <>, <>,
Subject: Re: HTML 4.0 draft available
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 16:34:08 +0100
Message-ID: <>

> speaking form the perspective of a very small fish in this pool...

So am I. That's the beauty of a discussion forum like this - people like
you and I have as much right to chip in as those from a large group like
Microsoft, Netscape or the W3C.

Looking back at things I've typed today, I suppose I could be coming across
as pedantic. Not my intention, really!! It's just I come from a
mathematical/logic background, so I'm used to wanting systems to be
complete (there was a nice bloke called Godel which proved that was
impossible, as this thread seems to be proving :-) ).

Again, speaking as a mathematician who's moved into graphic design and now
web page design, I think the B and I elements were introduced to make HTML
more like a word processor - and that's where the distinction started to
get muddled.

As in all other fields, HTML rules have exceptions. The B and I elements
are just such exceptions, but I think we ought to recognise them as such.

> so i'm just issuing a word of caution from a code-minnow to all you
> code-sharks that you have allowed people to do things with HTML that
> non-coders have never been able to do before, and to suddenly take that
> away over some concerns that would never even cross a minnows mind would
> a real shame.

On the contrary - I think HTML 4.0 is the beginning of a transition stage
where you don't have to worry about whether you understand HTML or not. By
separating out presentation from content, you can make it much easier to
generate web pages with the right software. Think of it this way: why do
you use bold and italics within a paragraph of text? *For emphasis*. Now,
if you have an old typewriter or a daisywheel printer, you have to
emphasise words by underlining because you don't have the luxury of using
what is essentially a different font. So in your old WP, you would maybe
use Ctrl-U, or F8, or whatever, for all the words you wanted to emphasise.

Then you get a dot-matrix printer (or even - gasp! - a laser printer!).
Suddenly you have the availability of bold, italic, colour changes,
whatever -- yet because your old documents are still full of underline
instructions, they won't look any better without lots of editing. In fact,
they could even look worse...

By using tags which say *why* you're doing something, rather than *how*
you're doing it, your information is much more flexible.

One final thought: 
If you ever thought millions of people couldn't be wrong, just look at the
politicians we elect ;-)

Scott A. Matthewman, Danielson Limited <>
Tel: +44 (0)1296 24478. Fax: +44 (0)1296 392141
"I don't envy you the headache you'll have in the morning. In the meantime,
sleep well and dream of large women." -- The Princess Bride