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

Steven Champeon (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 11:28:03 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 11:28:03 -0500
To: (F. E. Potts)
From: Steven Champeon <>
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format
In-Reply-To: <>

At 08:50 AM 3/24/97 -0700, F. E. Potts wrote:
>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.

Cross-platform stability? Examples?

>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.

The Web supports any file format you wish to send over it. Whether the
browsers support the formats sent is another question. Just because
HTML is the universal carrier format doesn't mean that SGML is locked 
out. And Panorama has been around for years. Why is it not cross-platform
yet? Why is it not stable enough to be useful yet?
"Platform Availability

      Windows 95 & NT
      (Windows 3.xx, Macintosh and UNIX to follow)"

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

And yet this isolationist attitude is why Panorama and other tools are
not yet available cross-platform - aloofness serves only to prevent
widespread adoption. 

Don't get me wrong - I was born in the crucible of SQ's Author/Editor.
I learned regular expressions within it's powerful search and replace
facility. I taught myself scheme while coding with its proprietary
style sheets (rather than DSSSL, which is significant). I used IETMs
to provide browseable SGML documents for the military.

And then I went ahead and taught myself Perl and HTML because SGML
was so glacially slow, frustrating, vendor-dependent, and as yet
unimplemented/unavailable for the applications I was trying to create.

Businesses don't have time nor inclination to wait for promises to
become realized. 


Steven Champeon                  !        I'll sleep
Web Guru/Intranet Builder        !       when I'm dead.             !         - Zevon