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Re: Introducing NetscapeML

From: Geoffrey Baker <editor@mbeacon.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 1996 09:40:16 -0400
Message-Id: <199607011344.JAA06266@mail.biddeford.com>
To: "Mary Morris" <marym@finesse.com>, <thomasre@microsoft.com>, <alexed@netscape.com>
Cc: <www-style@w3.org>, <html-erb@w3.org>, <www-html@w3.org>
What an interesting thread! Started by a Microsoft employee, we already
see various well-known panelists slugging it out, with Netscape putting it
its two bits.

I've always believed that browser acceptance - and by induction, HTML
specs themselves - are driven by the utility of the new HTML tags
offered... and later by whether such tags have seen general acceptance.
Netscape rose to fame on version 1.1 and the <body background> and <table>
tags. Microsoft IE 3.0 is, at least briefly, a clear leader with its
support for <style> tags, extended <frame> tags, etc. Why? Because you can
now build a better page with IE3. It probably won't last long. 
But...
Netscape was determined for a while to follow the plugin path, which I
think most developers find marginally useful. (I think one reason Netscape
liked plugins is that they avoided the whole standards argument.) Sure, if
you have a big client who wants RealAudio, or Macromedia, or any of the
other plugins, you will end up using the plug in. But the reality is that
any given plug in generally has a very small market... until it comes
built into the browser. And voila, it isnt a plugin anymore, its just
added browser functionality. 
With the new Netscape release, it sounds like they've moved back to
building new HTML extensions into their browser... which is the right
path.
The bottom line is *heresy*. No developer cares much about whether a new
tag is part of the standard; all they want to know is a) is it neat? and
b) if I write it into my code, how many people are likely to see it?
Netscape has a gigantic lead here, they could insert a tag called
<Microsoftsucks> and people would start using it right away. Microsoft,
with a tiny fraction of the browser market at this moment, needs to step
carefully - which is probably why they are so gung-ho on standards. Any
tag they propose, unless it is accepted as a standard, is unlikely to be
implemented. I've liked their <marquee> tag for months, but haven't put it
into any site, because less than 5 percent of browsers would know it's
there! 

Beware!
Whenever Microsoft dominates the market, all of a sudden, they start
setting the standards... 

Do I care about standards? Sure I do. But the Internet basically drives
this engine too fast for standards to stand still. The market - and the
popularity of proposed tags - is already driving HTML development; and
standards organizations are having to leapfrog to catch up. Hence HTML
3.2, and the end of HTML 3.0.
This may mean we have some very improper tags - and some truly awful ones.
But if it means that a developer can offer columns, leading control, exact
placement for graphics, and so forth... developers will use them.

I look forward to checking out Netscape's latest... and suggest Microsoft
that they had better get back to the drawing boards... this is one race
that will never end.
-- 
Geoffrey Baker ---------------------------- CTO
PUBLISHNET: ---- Integrated Internet Publishing
www.publishnet.com --------- editor@mbeacon.com


----------
> From: Mary Morris <marym@finesse.com>
> To: thomasre@microsoft.com; alexed@netscape.com
> Cc: www-style@w3.org; html-erb@w3.org; www-html@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Introducing NetscapeML
> Date: Monday, July 01, 1996 12:09 AM
> 
> 
> > There is indeed copious "market demand" for the simple yet powerful
> > extensions. We completed them earlier than we expected and are eager
to
> > get them into a beta product and try them out. We continue to work on
> > implementing CSS and other HTML 3.2 features.
> 
> I've heard this comittment to stylesheets coming from Netscape (the one
> time, new feature leader) for over a release now. Most of the stylesheet
> implementations can already be done in NHTML tags. I'm at a loss to
> understand why some sort of mapping kludge couldn't be made in the code
to
> accomodate stylesheets as a remap to NHTML just to keep up with
> Microsoft.
> 
> I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that it will take two full
> versions of Netscape Navigator to implement this (from the first
> vocal committment). At one time I believed that Netscape was the
> innovator that could zoom by Mosaic and race out beyond all competition.
> 
> If this delay in implementation was due to lack of technical resources,
> it looks like Microsoft will be leading the pack here shortly since 
> as one magazine put, it Microsoft has cornered the market on talent. 
> 
> If on the other hand, this was a strategic delay, it was a bad decision
> that will cost Netscape credibility in the long run. With 1.98 browsers
> on the average desktop, they don't have an exclusive mindshare anyway.
> Netscape has just let the professional's attention wander to something
> better. Hopefully the professionals will come back when Netscape 
> "catches up". ;^)
> 
> Don't stress too far on the latest Netscape sin. This isn't a closed
> market. Netscape's lead is a precarious thing that can be ripped away
> by bad karma in just a few web generations. They will have their due.
> Just as Microsoft will for their long delays in Unix compatibility and
> moderate delays in Mac compatibility. The wheel turns.
> 
> Mary E. S. Morris 
> http://www.sun.com/smi/ssoftpress/books/Morris2/Morris2.html
> 
> 
Received on Monday, 1 July 1996 09:48:07 GMT

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