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

Benjamin Franz (snowhare@netimages.com)
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 11:09:49 -0800 (PST)


Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 11:09:49 -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: <199703231742.SAA00362@kneipfix.rz.tu-clausthal.de>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970323102927.27980B-100000@ns.viet.net>

On Sun, 23 Mar 1997, Ingo Macherius wrote:

> > 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 see this as part of the problem, not as a solution. HTML is going the
> way BASIC was going in the 80's. See where BASIC is now ...

Now imagine a world not only like BASIC - but one in which you had to
write code that would successfully run under *all* those variants without
any source changes and without doing anything fatal. You begin to see
where the HTML designer today lives - and why automated tools are of only
marginal use to them. 

If you think I believe this to be a *desirable* state of affairs, you are
mistaken. It is the direct consequence of the fact that the standards have
lagged considerablely behind implementations by browser makers - and often
browser makers have failed to correctly implement the standards that do
exist. I can't live in an idealized world of 'here is the standard
everyone obeys' - because they *don't*.

I have to push sites out the door *today* - and just because something is
in the standards doesn't mean I can use it:  Criteria #1 in my
implementation book is _don't break people's browsers_.  I would *LOVE* to
be able to use OBJECT - but it breaks MSIE3. I would love to use external
Client Side Image Maps - but they break NS3.

I even came close to chucking stylesheets because MSIE and NS have managed
to jointly draw a razor sharp edge you have tread so they don't break one
or the other browser - I can't afford to break either. Given the choice
between no stylesheets and stylesheets that broke either of them - I would
lose the stylesheets. And I *LOVE* stylesheets (Sutailoshito ga dai suki
da! ;-) ).

I would love to see something I could use an automated tool on efficiently
- but it won't be HTML. From the day Netscape packed their variant under
'text/html' two and half years ago - text/html has been hopelessly mixed
with many different things all claiming to be the one true text/html. The
solution *might* be XML - but then again, I seem to recall someone saying
that NS has refused commitment to it (something I can well believe since
there does not seem to even be one Netscape name in the XML draft
credits). This may be enough to render XML a dead letter - which would be
a crying shame.

-- 
Benjamin Franz