W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > October 1999

RE: Future version of HTML!?

From: <JOrendorff@ixl.com>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 18:12:46 -0400
Message-ID: <CD8E2CDBC6D0D111ACB900805FBBD97E01FCFE36@mem-131.ixl.com>
To: www-html@w3.org
> >I think you are missing several important points about the  
> web.
> Probably so.  I guess where we differ the most is in that I'm  
> a programmer and you're an author.  I guess it's just hard for  
> me to imaginine a web full of languages that do absolutely  
> nothing.

I don't think that's the difference, because I'm a programmer
and I agree with Kjetil.

I think the difference just lies in point of view, so I'm going
to ramble a while and see if we can't come to agreement on a
thing or two.

The standards process:

a) Browser implementors dream up a feature and include it in
   a browser.  Web developers start using the feature.
b) Then these same implementors all come together at W3C to
   make a standard, and
c) lo and behold, the standard differs from the features
   already implemented.

Why do they differ?  Because mistakes are obvious in hindsight,
and these guys choose to fix their design mistakes in the standard,
rather than standardize the mistakes.  This is a good thing.

As a programmer, I can tell you that DHTML was about the worst
programming interface I can imagine.  It was horrid.  Netscape's
version was incompatible with IE's version; Netscape's version
didn't even work properly.  Sure, you can sniff the browser,
but frankly I don't want to spend precious waking hours on that.
I've been called on to actually USE DHTML in professional
projects.  Twice.  Both times I ended up incredibly frustrated.

DOM level 2 takes some of the best ideas from IE's DHTML model
and adds some more general stuff so that you can change attribute
values, create hidden form inputs, and so forth (if you need to).
The working draft looks good; I can't wait for the Recommendation.


You are right that BGSOUND is better suited to doing background
sounds than OBJECT.  But Kjetil is also right that HTML is not a
multimedia language.

Now, the question is:

Would you rather have a good multimedia language, actually
*designed* for multimedia no less, that won't be implemented in
browsers for several years yet?  OR would you prefer an
extremely poor multimedia language that is already on a billion

My answer:  Why choose?  You can have both!  But there's no
point standardizing HTML as a multimedia language now, because
(a) HTML is pretty darn awful as a multimedia language to begin
with; (b) that's not what the HTML-heads want to do and it
isn't worth fighting them; and most importantly (c) buddy, that's
all in the past.  The future of Web-based multimedia is in
SMIL, SVG, and other standards, not HTML.  Thank goodness!

> I originally posted the e-mail because I wanted feedback and I  
> got it.  I just wanted to know what other people had visions  
> of.  I know what the W3C plans, but I didn't forsee widespread  
> adoption of these technologies anytime soon.

Well, I guess it depends on how patient you are.  Two or three
years seems like "soon" to me.

> If I may have permission to speak candidly, I don't think XML  
> was a good idea.  In fact, I think it's a bad one.  Also, I  
> just can't imagine a toaster interpreting the Internet for  
> it's use.

What exactly is wrong with XML?  I'm constantly finding uses for
it, but not in the browser-- not yet.  (I guess that makes me
a programmer.)

> I'll just continue thinking in a programmer state of mind and  
> you can continue thinking as a writer;  I'll continue using  
> more Javascript than straight HTML on my pages, and you can  
> continue producing HTML-2.0ish pages.

Lovely.  Just one thing:  please don't confuse "programmer state
of mind" with favoring nearsighted pragmatism over a bit of
future-minded blue-sky dreamer-ism.  Most programmers, myself
included, like a bit of both.

> [...] I want the people that continue to use HTML to have a  
> powerful language.

Your proposal wouldn't make HTML any more powerful for the type
of documents you write.  It might standardize existing practice,
but that's of questionable value, isn't it? given that the web
is such a rapidly moving target?

The proposal would also legitimize the use of BGSOUNDs, and I'm
afraid I can't condone that.  ;-)

Received on Sunday, 24 October 1999 18:13:28 UTC

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