W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 2001

RE: Point of order!

From: Scott E. Lee <sandman_001@netzero.net>
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001 11:39:35 -0600
Message-ID: <3A8036D7.A8ED5E6B@netzero.net>
To: W3C HTML <www-html@w3.org>
"Charles F. Munat" wrote:

> The problem is that this analogy implies that it's an all or nothing
> proposal, i.e., that if web site developers switch to W3C technologies,
> their sites won't work ("no lights"). Here is a better analogy:

But, if the site developer uses unsupported technologies, how can an existing UA
read it?  Sheer force of will is not always the road to acceptance.

> [Snip] . . .
> That is essentially what XHTML Strict is all about. These old presentational
> tags are dirty and polluting. Here is a lean and clean source of markup that
> enforces the separation of structure from presentation. To use it, you'll
> have to tighten your belt just a little. But if you use it, if you encourage
> others to use it, and if you insist that user agent and authoring tool
> manufacturers support it, in the *near* future we will have a cleaner, more
> reusable web. And you'll still be able to do almost everything you want to
> do today.

But there is still the UA upgrade problem.  I am using NS4.7 because my ISP
(NetZero) doesn't support NS6.  What would my option be if I wished to view an
XHTML or XML site?  Even if I did upgrade, what about AOL, IE, Mosaic, WebTV?
You can't force everyone to upgrade just so you can write tighter code (Unless
you are MicroSoft).  Or am I way off base?

> Now the analogy is actually a pretty good one. For years we've been waiting
> for corporate America (or wherever) to give us Green Energy. Where is it?
> Still a long way away. But if we demand Green Energy, and we significantly
> cut back on power use until renewable energy is a reality (or better still,
> build decentralized Green Energy sources and cut ourselves off from the
> grid), you'll see a very sudden interest in Green Energy among the energy
> corporations.

Demand creates supply.  That I get.  But thinking that the big guys will buy
into new technologies or code styles that may not be viewable by millions is a
risky proposition at best.  As a designer, you would have to maintain backward
compatible pages for the "Mom and Pops" out there that either don't know how, or
don't want to upgrade for whatever reason.  Does that make it easier on the

> [Snip] . . .
> It's the same thing with the web. As long as we continue to build sites with
> 5-year old technology, new user agents will be slow to arrive. But start
> using the new technology and pushing the envelope, and the big corporations
> will react quickly. Insist on standards-compliance and they will respond. If
> they don't, they know that some small upstart will come along and fill that
> need.

Which I am all for.  Reliance on IE, NS/Mozilla by the masses (myself included)
is scary.  But the new UA would have to be all encompassing, free, easy to use
and understand, and easily integrated into the OS of the user.  Maybe this is
what "Ginger" is?

> In short, you do not advance by waiting for companies to create new
> products, then creating a need for them. You create the demand first, then
> the companies will respond. We must lead. They will not. (If they do, it
> will not be in the direction that is most beneficial to the Web or to us,
> but to their bottom line.)

Again, I must concur.  UA's will not evolve unless forced to do so.  And seeing
AOL take over NS and MicroSoft's history of leeching technology from other
sources leads me to believe that no discernible change in support is forthcoming
from either camp.  The support will probably have to come from an upstart that
designs a plug-in or module that helps the existing UA's to render the pages.
Then the big guys will either adapt or get left behind.

> Sincerely,
> Charles F. Munat

-Scott E. Lee

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Received on Tuesday, 6 February 2001 12:40:40 UTC

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