Lets keep the web together

Tim Berners-Lee (timbl@www3.cern.ch)
Tue, 1 Dec 92 16:52:50 +0100

Date: Tue, 1 Dec 92 16:52:50 +0100
From: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@www3.cern.ch>
Message-Id: <9212011552.AA01907@www3.cern.ch>
To: www-talk@nxoc01.cern.ch
Subject: Lets keep the web together

- CERN distributes a WWW protocol/parser library.
- Tony Johnson is extending the MidasWWW code the other protocols.
- Dave Ragget is writing a completely new browser.
- Jim WhiteScarver is "going beyond the scope of WWW".
- So are lots of others.
- Dan Connolly is writing a definitive HTML engine for the new spec,
- Dan was also making a parallel version of Midas.
- At CERN, somone (else) is making a modified viola,
- Pei Wei works on a new Viola with completely new parts.

This is all great, except for two things: consistency and support.

Getting the protocol code and parsing code right and tracking bugs and external  
changes will be some work, I feel that it is important that we do end up with  
common code.

I know what it is like to have to maintain code on lots of platforms.
You have to write the code specially. There are W3 code style guidelines in the  
web which say what we found out to be necessary.  It's a pain. Noone is going  
to support 8 parsers on 12 platforms.

I am therefore a little worried about the proliferation of implementations.
(I know, I'm rather pleased about it too! :-) I would like to see one or maybe  
two definitive libraries around (two, so to test the first one for  
self-consistent bugs), but not four. I feel that if there are too many, then  
there will be cases of little things which work on one but not on the others,  
because there is not enough support effort for each. And we want to keep the  
quality high, in terms of reliability, conformance, and portability.
The smarts are all very well. So could I encourage everyone with a bit of  
motherhood and apple pie.

If you are thinking of a smart extra to EITHER HTTP or HTML then please define  
it and discuss it here on www-talk.  Don't try just to get it out before the  
next guy. He is probably doing it too, a different way, and theese are all  
exciting ideas which benefit from being hacked around on the net.

When the idea has come out, we can put it into a tentative "future" spec
for comment and everyone can work from it.

There is more than plenty of work for everyone out there!  With all this drive  
we are going to accomplish some incredible things over then next few months.
We don't need to be over-competitive, and we need to try to get things right  
first time.

Jim's comment system is neat, and I'd like to adopt it here too.