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Re: Introducing NetscapeML -Reply

From: Charles Peyton Taylor <CTaylor@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
Date: Mon, 01 Jul 1996 10:13:03 -0800
Message-Id: <s1d7a4c6.031@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
To: html-erb@w3.org, www-html@w3.org, www-style@w3.org


>>> Geoffrey Baker <editor@mbeacon.com> 07/01/96 05:49am >>>
>
><snip!>
>
>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.

This, of course, assumes that the audience is an
educated one.  (Educated in that they know something 
about the alternatives.)

>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...

Let me make a slight distinction: you can now build 
a better *SITE* with a browser such as IE3 that 
supports CSS.  The time that CSS shows it's strength
is when you make a change to a style sheet (one file) 
and that change is reflected on an entire site.

>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! 

This is true, but also important is the ability to 
validate web pages using standard DTD's. Right now,
few of my pages are technically valid because there 
isn't a DTD that allows CLASS *and* all the stuff in 
HTML 3.2.

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

A moot point when Netscape tries to do the same.

>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.

I still think that the only way to insure standards
compliance is browser certification.

>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 can see using the Netscapisms on the first page a 
viewer is likely to visit, just in case that viewer 
isn't using a CSS-enabled browser.  But still, as one 
of the W3C guys said it best: tagging sucks.

>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.

It depends ... on a government site, Netscape isn't free. 
IE is.  Hence, government web sites may move to using CSS. 
Vendors who supply the government may move to CSS because 
their sites are being viewed by government workers using 
IE.  

I suspect that many non-educational viewers who are 
using Netscape haven't paid for it.  If something 
should happen that would make it harder to use 
Netscape for free, a tremendous amount of viewers 
would switch browsers.

I don't think there is as much of a necessity for 
Microsoft to support Netscape's new tags as there 
was for the older Netscapisms.  *Especially* with
CSS support.  I don't know about other sites, but 
my site is being accessed mostly by viewers using 
Netscape 1.x and 2.x in about equal amounts; writing 
for anything else would have to be time-efficient 
(as is CSS for the reasons given above.)  Why take 
the time and effort (and there are already many 
things to do with a web site) to write for NS 3 
when people are using NS 1?  CSS, on the other hand,
is too efficient to pass up.

What Microsoft *does* have to do is finish IE 3 
and make it available for Win 3.x, Macintosh, 
and Unix (yes, Unix) platforms.

>--  Geoffrey Baker ---------------------------- CTO
>PUBLISHNET: ---- Integrated Internet Publishing
>www.publishnet.com --------- editor@mbeacon.com
Received on Monday, 1 July 1996 13:56:31 GMT

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