Line mdeo browser Q & A

Tim Berners-Lee (timbl)
Wed, 20 May 92 13:38:20 GMT+0200

Date: Wed, 20 May 92 13:38:20 GMT+0200
From: timbl (Tim Berners-Lee)
Message-Id: <9205201138.AA07560@ >
To: Rama Porrat <>
Subject: Line mdeo browser Q & A

Rama Porrat <> writes,

> I am trying to write a help online manual using www. I think www can be very
> useful and the stuff I deal with really needs such a system.
> BUT there are things which must be corrected in order that www will be
> usable, and I am writing in the hope that you can correct the www
> or tell me if those things can be corrected soon.

> The most annoying thing is the appearance of a "listing" file
> on screen when displayed by www.  The fact that pages
> are displayed "backward", that is, you repeat portions of the
> file alsready displayed when you come to the last page of a file,
> is unacceptable. It makes a mess out of the display.
> The way a listing file is displayed should adhere to what's in the
> file, without any "going back". This is essential.

We haven't noticed this!  By "listing" file, do you mean a plain text
file, or part of a marked-up file which uses the <listing> tag?
What you describe seems very strange.  Please give me a reference to the file
if it on a server, or else mail it to me. Thanks.

> The way the word [end] is displayed at the end of a screen is not nice.
> It is too close to the last line and in the "middle" of the line.
> The www writer should have the option not to display this [end]
> at all, or otherwise put it in a lower and to the side of the
> screen.

This is question of taste. It is easy to recompile the browser (just GridText.c)  
with the option to define the macro END_MARK as "".  You can do that locally. The  
[end] mark was put in to stop people trying to scroll past the end of the file,  
having to press RETURN every time just to see whether there was any more left. It  
would be simpler not to have it!

Note that the X11 browsers do not have an [end] mark. On VM/XA  and MVS systems
it is <End>.  You could make a void (or Hebrew) version if you needed to.
All these things are in the file GridText.c in the browser implementation.
You could make a local variant.  If others on this list agree, then we could  
incorporate certain options in the master source.

> The h1 header displays numbers which are confusing for the reader.
> For example, in my listing file, the addition of <h1> displays the numbers (on
> sequential pages)  no numbers on first page
> (50/64) on next page (64/64) on last page.
> This is quite confusing.

These numbers should not be connected with the <h1> header.  They are the line  
number of the bottom line on the screen, and the line number of the last line in  
the file. They were asked for by users, to give some indication of how far through  
the document one is.  The numbers are not displayed on the first page as that
is displayed before the whole file has been read, for speed.

>  You even get numbers like (69/64).

If you could scroll down so that blank space after the document were
displayed, the bottom line would be greater than the last line.  But I can't get it  
to happen. Could you give me the exact sequence you are using, please, along with  
document addresses?  And tell me the version number you have (type help to get it).

> Please erase those numbers, or display something clear, like:
> Page 1 out of 3          etc.

The file is not divided strictly into pages, so to displaying page numbers
would be confusing. For example, when one returns to a document one has left by a  
link, that link is displayed, if possible, a third of the way down the page. This  
will not necessarily allign with a "page".

> The <title> is inconsistent - at times it appears on screen, 

> at other times it doesn't.

	Yes. This is a feature of the pipeline optimisation of
	the code. When the document is started, its title is not
	known and neihter is its length. The first characters are
	displayed on the screen as soon as they come in. This
	gives a faster response time

> There should be a possibility to enter the www with a pre-known
> pointer.  For example, saying     www tex
> should be able to give you the top screen pertaining to tex, without
> going through a number of previous screens.

	There is.
	You have to give the network address of the document, which is
	not so simple. It would have to be something like

		www http://info/tex

	as "www tex" will cause www to read a file "tex" in the local directory.

	Note you can define alises for users
		alias texhelp www http://info/help/tex/html

	for example

>It is also very important to give the possibility of including
>comments in html sources.

	Yes. The <comment> junk </comment> tag is respected by
	recent browsers, but only recent ones: Not the NeXT browser.

I hope this at least explains the raesons for a few things. I have put the  
intermittency of the title on our list of bugs to be fixed. We may put in options
to control some of the other things. If anyone else on this list has views on these  
things, they should say. It is only from comments from real users what break away  
from our own view of what if "nice" in a browser: Thanks for your feedback.

	Tim BL