Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format

Benjamin Franz (snowhare@netimages.com)
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 04:16:25 -0800 (PST)


Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 04:16:25 -0800 (PST)
From: Benjamin Franz <snowhare@netimages.com>
To: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format
In-Reply-To: <33347107.7781@csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970323034716.25656C-100000@ns.viet.net>

On Sat, 22 Mar 1997, Paul Prescod wrote:

> BruceLeban@aol.com wrote:
> > Of course, Globetrotter writes HTML right now because that's what the web
> > uses, but if the web were to change overnight to a new language,
> > Globetrotter users would just republish (as easy as reprinting a
> > document) and go. (After of course upgrading to the new version of
> > Globetrotter that writes the new output format.)
> 
> And what about in the meantime? What if I decide not to upgrade to the
> new version, or if Akimbo goes out of business? Is my data stored in an
> open, ASCII-based format like XML or SGML, or in something proprietary
> and binary that I will not be able to work with?
> 
> Your product would also be more impressive if it produced valid HTML.

[snip] 

> Adobe and Claris may hand code their sites (according to your home page)
> because quickly written WYSIWYG HTML editors cannot be counted upon to
> generate correct HTML. 

Even more importantly - NO automated tool can deal with the experience
gained knowledge of 'something that works in NS 2 and works in NS 3 and
works in MSIE 3 and Lynx, but NS 4 rolls over and crys uncle *UNLESS* you
do _this_'. (I'm not picking on NS for this. There are examples for each
of the above browsers that will fail only on that particular browser.)

Simply having HTML that validates is NOT ENOUGH (although it is very
important to strive for - even if, under some circumstances, you have to
do things you can't validate because the public DTDs haven't completely
caught up to the standards for things like stylesheets). It has to work on
browsers with varying levels of HTML support and sometimes different
interpretations of the the same HTML.  And the more complex the effect you
try to achieve the worse the problem is.  To top everything else off - it
has to interact well with the search engines.

*NOTHING* but lots of experience and hand coding can do all these things
for anything but the most simple of pages. And this doesn't even speak to
the many *other* things a webmaster does besides code HTML. Webmasters are
in no danger of being obsoleted in the near future. If anything there will
be an acute shortage of good ones for now and the next couple of years, at
least. Even 'mere' web designers (which is a more restricted skill set
than webmaster) will be in high demand for years to come. 

-- 
Benjamin Franz