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Re: Microsoft IE -- it just gets better and better

From: lilley <lilley@afs.mcc.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 15:11:46 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <24071.9602051511@afs.mcc.ac.uk>
To: masinter@parc.xerox.com (Larry Masinter)
Cc: wpk@fc.net, www-talk@w3.org
Larry Masinter writes:

> William King wrote:
> 
> > Is it not true that as long as folks ignore the central issue of
> > standardization of content and the provision of conformance testing tools
> > and branding programs for clients and servers, then they're going to get
> > bogged down trying to solve peripheral and unnecessarily complex problems
> > such as this one?

Yes, that seems a fair summary.

> > However, focusing more resources on the conformance and branding problem
> > might just cause of lot of this other stuff to go away.

A lot, yes. There have also been proposaly to make processing of marked 
sections a requirement for HTML UAs which would  cause even more of the 
problems to go away.

> The problems of content type negotiation with versions, features, and
> the like is something that has been an issue for as long as there have
> been computers, and doesn't seem to go away no matter what the forum.

Yes, although negotiating on actual features rather than bugwards 
compatibility or 'browser x puts 6 blank pixels here while browser y 
only puts 4' sure cuts down the problem a lot as William notes.


> If you have a "Microsoft Word" file, you actually have to identify, in
> some situations, whether you have Word for Windows, Word for WIndows
> for Workgroups, Word for Macintosh, version 5,6, 7, etc. These are all
> the same brand, and they have some amount of interoperability. 

Hmm - yet these are all application/x-ms-word

> If you have a "TIFF" file, you need to know, in some circumstances,
> whether it is TIFF class B, class F, or uses non-standard tags.

Indeed. Although if you read the registration document, all image/tiff files 
are supposed to be black-and-white class F files ;-)

> Over time, some of the complexity in document formats goes away.  Some
> of the enhancements get dropped, everyone finds a least common
> denominator to support, differentiation beyond that becomes
> unimportant, and stuff converges.

Which reduces the problem, but does not eliminate it.

> There's a lot fewer image formats
> floating around now than there were 3 years ago, for example. 

Depends on your sample. We have converters installed for around 200 formats 
here, for example. But yes, the lack of working content negotiation has seen 
the Web settle on GIF and JFIF pretty quickly ;-)

> (I'm surprised at the rise of PNG though.)  

Given what you say about TIFF, and also given that TIFF and GIF are patent 
compromised, the rise of PNG should hardly be a surprise. Note also that 
PNG takes care to differentiate between core chunks, public extension 
chunks, and private chunks and has explicit rules to ensure PNG files 
can be exchanged in a robust manner. Thereby eliminating many of the 
content negotiation parameters that would be requird to exchange, say, 
TIFF files reliably.


> So, I don't think that the issue of feature sets, characteristics,
> etc. for media types is going to go away, as long as there are new
> encapsulations of intellectual content ("document formats") to be
> invented.

Right. A pity, then, that MIME types are still so email centric and not 
really all that suited for the sort of fine grained negotiation that 
still seems to be needed even after the bugwards compatibility issues 
are removed.

-- 
Chris Lilley, Technical Author and JISC representative to W3C 
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Received on Monday, 5 February 1996 10:14:13 GMT

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