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

F. E. Potts (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 08:50:45 -0700

Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 08:50:45 -0700
From: (F. E. Potts)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format

On Mon, 24 Mar 1997 07:59:54 -0700, Steven Champeon wrote:
> All good points. Thanks for the comments. 
> My biggest complaint with the SGML world (which I was a part of
> for several years, including helping to found the RTP SGML Users
> Group, now defunct) is that it simply moves too &^$%^&$ slow. 
> We needed HyTime implementations five years ago. Are there any now?
> We needed DSSSL to be stable and standardized and implemented,
> but the different vendors had different versions - much as CSS
> and the various HTML tagsets are now. 

This is all very true, and the slowness is cause for real frustration.
But in return for the slowness we get cross-platform stability, and for
me that is very important.  In fact, it is one of the main reasons I
work in SGML.

> Say what you want about HTML, and I will agree in principle with
> most everything I've seen on the list, but at least the browser
> vendors are actually putting implementations out there. It's a
> real Scylla and Charybdis kind of thing, but I'll take poorly
> implemented tools which are actually available over paper tigers
> that you can't use for anything, and which haven't been proven
> in practice. 

Yes, they certainly shook up the sleepy net.  But the way they are
going about it is a shame.

> Mosaic, in six months, did more for the SGML world than it had been
> able to do for itself, even with all the gov't mandates, in ten
> years.  It would be a shame if it also drove SGML into extinction.

The web is just one use of SGML, and at this time only supports HTML.
But there is no chance that the web will drive SGML into extinction,
for SGML's uses are far broader than the web, and to most governments
and businesses, far more important.

That is one of the beauties of SGML.  It essentially lies outside the
turf wars of companies like Netscape and Microsoft. :-)