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Re: Eolas releases WebRouser via the Internet

From: Steve H Rose <habib@world.std.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 1995 09:29:05 +0059 (EDT)
To: www-talk@w3.org
Message-Id: <Pine.3.89.9509220803.D20531-0100000@world.std.com>


On Thu, 21 Sep 1995, Daniel DuBois wrote:

> >While paradigms are worth breaking (sometimes) it begs the question - Will
> >there be a Certification process for all the Web products to test adherence
> >to specifications? A Spec which is ignored is useless.
> 
> Curently, the closest thing to certification that exists is for people to
> voluntarily validate their own documents, and then voluntarily append a
> "Beta HTML 3 approved" gif to the end of their page (See my personal pages
> for details; I'm compliant.)  This is not a perfect solution.  Unscrupulous
> or uninformed people could include the gif even if they weren't compliant.
> Compliant page creators might not be aware enough to include the stamp of
> approval.  It's impossible to tell before going to a site (or just by
> looking at it with the average user agent) if a site is compliant.  And the
> stamp doesn't do much to encourage people to comply.  We have to mail people
> and say "Hey, your using a big FONT to indicate a new chapter, and my
> search/indexing utility only stores headings" or "Hey, your page hard codes
> pixels widths in tables and my resolution is high, so the boxes are way too
> small so the text overflows".  Of course, that gets really tedious really fast.

There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people writing HTML, or who will
shortly be writing HTML.  There is <strong>NO WAY</strong> to enforce any
type of certification process on this large a group.  Additionally, most
of these people have no idea that such a process is even a possibility. 
IMHO, most people writing HTML do not subscribe to any lists about HTML,
think every browser operates identically to their specific release of
Netscape, and are mostly concerned with "gee that's a cool font." 

There certainly are people who are concerned about standards/accessibility
issues once they understood their importance.  They may be open to 
learning how to write compliant HTML.

But, IMHO, many people who know enough so that they <em>should</em> care
about these things don't -- because they arrogantly figure that people
should all get that same specific release of <blink>Netscape</blink>. 
Have you seen the number of homepages with "best viewed using Netscape"? 
Compare that to the number that are certified as having compliant HTML.   

> The worst thing is, the average content provider seems apathetic to these
> issues.
> 

1. apathetic
2. ignorant
3. actively hostile

All boils down to pretty much the same thing...

> >How important is the entire process to the industry? I have seen this
> 
> I think it's important to the industry, but apparently some feel it more
> important than others.  My own personal feeling on the issue is that it's
> extremely imperative.  However, companies have different pressures on them.
> For instance, Spyglass, a company that holds standards very dear to its
> heart, has implemented the <FONT> tag in Spyglass Mosaic 2.1.  It was a
> business decision made by higher ups that couldn't be avoided.  We could not
> obtain certain deals without adding this tag.  Netscape did it, and we had
> to do it too or we wouldn't get $$$.  If Spyglass doesn't get $$$, I don't
> get $$$, and I don't get to go buy a new laptop.
> 

I just bought a new laptop, and as a professional homepage developer, I 
do what the client wants.  I try to educate them about the importance of 
compliant HTML, but if they insist on using Netscape bells & whistles, I 
humbly comply.  I still have the payments on the laptop...

> >to. Without standardization HTML authorship will become an unguided,
> >undisciplined, creative expression - not bad stand-alone - but disastrous in
> >a cooperative environment.

Will become?!?  Sounds like the reality at the moment, and continuing in 
the same direction.

> 
> I agree 100%.  And it's just going to get worse as time goes on.  Netscape
> is adding tags (and other companies are following suit) that cannot fit into
> an SGML DTD.  (I refer to the plus signs and percent signs we're seeing in
> attribute values.)  Others will follow that downward path.  Multiple people
> are coming out with HTML parsing technology that recognizes extensions they
> create, and worse, using extensions that *mean other things* to other
> software products (or to the specs).  Conflicts are going to multiply
> exponentially as the number of people in the game increases linearly.
> 
> The internet is doomed.  Film at 11.
> -----

Ok, IMHO:

1. Forget about "enforcing" standards on all developers.  That's a bad joke.
2. Continue trying to educate those developers who are willing to learn 
about the importance of standards, and trying to get the makers of 
browsers, editors etc. to appreciate the critical importance of having at 
least a minimal base of standards.
3. Scale down our expectations of having one universal environment that 
can provide access to everything for everybody, and try to concentrate on 
ensuring the minimal level of standardization necessary to communicate as 
much as possible.
4. Wait for (and/or assist in developing) new tools that will allow 
people to function effectively in this brave new world that is being 
created (e.g. intelligent agents that will be able to understand HTML in 
all of its flavors, tools that will automatically convert HTML in any 
flavor to the flavor needed by a specific browser etc.)

Many of us have always hoped for a universal language like Esperanto
(which means hope, by the way).  Esperanto never really caught on.  But,
the need for a universal language has continued.  The reality is, because
of British and American (U.S.) imperialism and American technology,
English IS that language (at least on the Internet).  That isn't the way 
it was planned, just the way it worked out.

HTML, the WWW, and the Internet have been able to establish a much broader
base of common communication than any such attempt in history.  In the 
future, that may be one of the most important results of the work of so 
many wonderful, creative people including CERN and the WWW organization.  
Over time, this base of common communication may lead to even more 
wonderful things.  For the moment, forces which apparently are in 
opposition to common communication have the upper hand (including our old 
friend, greed).  Over time, none of us know exactly what will emerge.

The Internet is NOT doomed - but it certainly will continue to change.  

Deal with the reality, keep working toward the ideal.

Yours,

Steve Habib Rose
HomePage Associates
Clear Nets Training and Consulting
Developer of The HTML CyberClass
Received on Friday, 22 September 1995 09:29:12 GMT

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