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Stability [Was: XHTML]

From: Murray Altheim <altheim@eng.sun.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 12:51:16 -0800
Message-ID: <383C4FC4.4EF66ADE@eng.sun.com>
To: Ethan Fremen <mindlace@majordomo.net>
CC: www-html@w3.org
Ethan Fremen wrote:
> 
> Murray Altheim wrote:
> 
> > The ability to create many varieties of interoperable markup languages
> > based on a common framework (XML and its family of specs, XLink, XSL,
> > etc.) relies on people abandoning proprietary markup (and in this I
> > include a wide array of non-XML Web "features" such as CSS, JavaScript,
> > the current HTML linking syntax, etc.) and begin using truly
> > interoperable markup. A new baseline for interoperability, a new era
> > based on XML, XLink and XSL.
> 
> Ouch.  CSS is proprietary markup?  And here I thought I was being
> idealistic by pushing for documents that use only W3C recommendations.
> Now I'm supposed to use only XML and it's family of specifications?
> Err. Hum.  Well, since it looks like Spring of 2000 is going to be the
> first time one can use CSS1 relatively reliably, maybe I should just
> quit writing web pages and come back in 2004 or so when there are
> working XSL implementations that behave similarly...

I thought I might add that while XML is the flavor-of-the-month in the
industry press, there's no reason to abandon HTML 4.0 and CSS1. The
subset of both specifications that works interoperably has as you say 
improved to the point of relative reliability. 

Hopefully over the years the remaining holes (internationalization, 
CSS selectors and a few other things come to mind...) will be mended. 
There's a danger that people will believe that the HTML web is dead and 
that we must all move to XML. This isn't Microsoft Office: you don't need
to "upgrade." The web works pretty well right now. The move to XML is
for areas that HTML is not well-suited. People shouldn't expect HTML and
CSS (nor XML) to serve every need.

The idea that one needs to author one's documents in the "latest thing" 
is pervasive but almost idiotic in its logic (no offense to you intended).
People should consider their intended audience and how widely readable 
they wish to make their pages. If you only care about the MSN audience,
use features only available on IE. If you only care about those with 
seventeen inch monitors then use really large imagemaps. If you care 
about a really wide audience (including the visually impaired and those
with small device browsers), write in the least common denominator that
supports the features you really need. If you can do that in HTML 4.0 
plus CSS1, then all power to you. HTML 3.2 might be fine too. 

Note that ISO believes their version of HTML [ISOHTML] will have a 
lifespan of up to 25 years. It's better to opt for interoperability
rather than flash in my book, but I realize this goes against common
marketing droid wisdom.

Murray

[ISOHTML] http://www.ornl.gov/sgml/wg8/document/n1966/FinalCD.html
...........................................................................
Murray Altheim, SGML Grease Monkey         <mailto:altheim&#64;eng.sun.com>
Member of Technical Staff, Tools Development & Support
Sun Microsystems, 901 San Antonio Rd., UMPK17-102, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4900

   the honey bee is sad and cross and wicked as a weasel
   and when she perches on you boss she leaves a little measle -- archy
Received on Wednesday, 24 November 1999 15:50:30 GMT

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