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

Jukka Korpela (
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 17:40:12 +0200 (EET)

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 17:40:12 +0200 (EET)
From: Jukka Korpela <>
Subject: Re: HTML should not be a file format, but an output format
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 23 Mar 1997, Stephanos Piperoglou wrote:

> HTML was never meant to be written by the end user. Programmers should know
> it, just like programmers at Microsoft know MS Word format. HTML was used to
> define links from point A to point B. That was it. 

Then, really, why did HTML have quite a many other tags than anchor (A)
tags from the very beginning?

I've often heard people compare HTML to things like MS Word format.
_If_ HTML were a layout design language, the analogue would be quite
reasonable, although I'd rather compare it to RTF format in that case.

As a language for describing the structure of (hypertext) documents,
however, HTML is something that requires some abstract thinking and
some suitable notation. In fact, a "WYSIWYG" editor could be suitable
_if_ it presented each HTML construct in exactly one manner and used
separate notation for each HTML construct and if the author realized
that he _is_ actually writing and editing HTML directly, just with
a "visual" notation which is isomorphic (and uniquely mappable)to what
we now know as HTML.

I could even imagine a program which would allow the user manage _both_
the structure and some particular presentation of a document, without
mixing the two. It would, perhaps, allow me to save the document as
a pair of an HTML file and a style sheet file. Well, I have to stop
dreaming. (By first encounter with Office 97 suggested to me that
it has a different approach, to put it mildly.)