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

Terje Norderhaug (
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 03:37:53 -0800

Message-Id: <af5abc0c090210046699@[]>
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 03:37:53 -0800
To: Paul Prescod <>,
From: (Terje Norderhaug)
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format

At 1:45 AM 3/23/97, Paul Prescod wrote:
>nemo/Joel N. Weber II wrote:
>> You raise some interesting issues.
>> They seem valid.
>> How would you like to solve those problems?
>I've already solved this problem. And guess what! I'm not selling
>anything: I use all free software (not, unfortunately, all available for
>the Mac, yet). The solution is to encode your documents in a storage
>format that reflects the needs of the documents: one that reflects the
>internal structure of the documents and is based on SGML or XML.

The web server companion Interaction/IP on the Mac is well prepared for all
that you describe, as I share your vision about document management.
Interaction is technically a light-weight SGML document publishing system
particularly suited for dynamic adaptive sites, and the only web server
companion on the Mac to have a long time clearly stated commitment to SGML.

I support the view that HTML is not very well suited as a storage format
for content. Unfortunately, many webmasters as well as authors have a
immature view on information management, making it hard to argue for a
radical change in their habits.  Thus, we have found it strategically
advantagous to approximate some of the current practices, with the purpose
of moving the authors increasingly closer towards SGML.

Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of the general webmasters are
stuck in the paradigm of mapping URLs to files. Interaction thus to some
extent provide a relatively direct mapping from locations to documents,
included processed SGML documents. For the longer term, rule-based
processing, well, rules! Deviation from directly mapping URLs to files has
shown to give a regular stream of support requests with authors getting
confused, but that is not going to make us stop working towards better
practices on the Mac platform.

>So what does this stylesheet mapping process look like? Well, in simple
>cases it is just like this:
> (element para (make-html-element "P")) ;creates an HTML paragraph

Interaction includes an almost complete Common LISP interpreter, and I
welcome anybody that want to play with such LISP syntax stylesheet mappings
(or implementing other capabilities) to join in and see what you can make
as an extension for Interaction on the Mac:

-- Terje <>
   Media Design in*Progress

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