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

Stephanos Piperoglou (
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 21:42:11 +0200 (EET)

Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 21:42:11 +0200 (EET)
From: Stephanos Piperoglou <>
To: "F. E. Potts" <>
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 22 Mar 1997, F. E. Potts wrote:

> That's a totally bogus argument--we are talking long-term storage here,
> and only documents written to a standard will be able to survive.  And
> that's the problem with HTML as written by most non-pros: it is tested
> against a "browser" rather than against a DTD.

Well there you go again. The reason I wrote the mail that started this
thread is that I don't believe HTML is a good document storage format. In
fact, HTML should never have existed as such. The Web as we know it is about
hyperlinks. And people are missing the point of hyperlinks.

All that has happened here is that a debate about document storage formats
has started. That's a good thing, of course. I like SGML, personally, but
that's for text documents that may contain other embedded media, and there's
always the question of which graphics format is the best - I like PNG for
raster, haven't decided on vector - which audio format is the best - haven't
got a clue - and so on, and then we get to programming languages for dynamic
information and tools, and if that isn't a never-ending debate then what is?

The point of the Web and the reason HTML was initially designed (and I'm
getting this from a reliable source, that being the words of Tim
Berners-Lee) was to create an easy way to define and use hyperlinks between
all kinds of media available from all kinds of sources (hence the term
"resource", yes?).

HTML itself is really inadequate for this, and the problem with all the
tools (editors, browsers, search engines, even standardization bodies) is
that they want to develop HTML as a document storage format instead of
focusing on what can be used as a REPLACEMENT for HTML as a way to define
hyperlinks in a universal way, and let already existing document storage
formats take everything from then on.

If you had a way to define a link from point X in an AIFF sample on your
hard disk to area Y of a JPG image available on a Web server in Alaska and a
way to define a link from section A in a manual on a software publisher's
web server to the output of function B in a program being run on your
office's application server then everyone would be happy, and the need for
tools to take advantage of these features would be trivial since these tools
would be written in no time.

But no one is trying to do this. THAT's my point, see.

Stephanos "Pippis" Piperoglou -
I've never finished anything I began, but this time I'm