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Re: Using htlm editors to produce clean code? (fwd)

From: MegaZone <megazone@megazone.org>
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 16:31:06 -0700 (PDT)
Message-Id: <199805172331.QAA13967@shell4.ba.best.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Once upon a time Alan J. Flavell shaped the electrons to say...
>If you aim to have them create web pages, then I think your
>apparent aim of having them create web sites without knowing what a
>web site is or what HTML is/can do, might be somewhat over-ambitious.

I don't think so, not at all.  You can use Word or Excel or Photoshop, etc
without knowing how it marks paragraphs, or cells, or how GIF encoding
works.  And you can do a respectable job.

People should be able to author web pages without having to learn HTML and/or
CSS.  Sure, there are those of us who will do it anyway, but the general
public will not - period.  They ask "Why do I need to learn this stuff?" 
And frankly, I can't give them a good answer.  The tools *SHOULD* be able
to do it for you.  It is not too much to ask that an authoring tool prodice
VALID markup, is it?  I certainly don't think so.  The problem is, today,
the tools are insufficient in various ways.  This is something that MUST
be addressed if standards are to gain wide spread acceptance.

>The problem with these would-be "create a web without knowing anything
>about it" packages is that they roll a lot of unrelated functions into

So what?  You can claim the same thing about large corporations who do
everything on Windows - it becomes a pain to switch to anything else.  That
doesn't seem to matter to most users.  How about using Word for documents -
that is exceedingly common.  Running Oracle for databases can lock you in
to doing things their way, and it isn't always easy to switch to Sybase, etc.

This argument holds next to no water in the corporate world.  They don't
intend to switch all that often in the first place - if you have to switch
someone obviously picked the wrong option the first time.

>> I need to find tools that 
>> our secretaries can use without learning html.
>I'm afraid that is analogous to saying "I need our secretaries to
>write letters on the computer without having to learn to use a

I completely disagree.  Learning HTML is mroe akin to learning typesetting.
The wordprocessor does that for you - and web authoring tools should
handle the HTML and CSS transparently.  I don't need to learn typesetting
to do a good job authoring a document (though I did mess with hand printing
presses some years back) and I shouldn't *have* to learn HTML and CSS to
author a web page.

Sure, *I* do it in emacs by hand - but I'm NOT J. Q. Public.  I'm en
engineer who revels in being a geek.  But I know that trying to teach some
of the non-technical people I work with valid HTML/CSS would be a losing
battle.  Why isn't there an authoring tool I can give them that handles
the standards compliance?

>created by your authors, then I have heard good things said of "HoT
>MetaL pro" by people whose judgment I trust.  I can't speak for it
>personally, though - I simply don't have enough experience of it.

Well, I haven't seen the latest.  But I'd usd 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x versions
of the product.  It was the ONLY product I could recommend for a while,
and it was always at the top of my list.  SoftQuad comes from the SGML 
community, I think that perspective really helps.  And I understand that
have the "HoTMetaL intranet Publisher" (HiP) now to help publish sites.

>length on this topic, but I do strongly feel that the WWW in general,
>and HTML in particular, was designed with portability and

I feel very strongly this is true also.

>accessibility as one of its strengths.  I find it so utterly
>frustrating that we are presented with tools that throw away most of
>this accessibility and flexibility, and mislead authors into thinking
>they are doing nothing more than visual design.  When these authors

It is extremely frustrating.  It is harder to un-teach bad skills and
re-teach good ones than to start from nothing.  If I were more of a coder
I'd probably be working on an authoring tool that did it right.  But as
that isn't my strength I keep hoping for some of the brilliant coders out
there to hack something up.

You know, an authoring tool in Java that handled CSS and HTML accurately
and had the bells and whistles most products have would probably make
someone a good chunk of change.

<URL:mailto:megazone@megazone.org> Gweep, author, webmaster, human being, me
"A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men" 781-788-0130
<URL:mailto:megazone@gweep.net> <URL:http://www.megazone.org/> Hail Discordia!
Received on Sunday, 17 May 1998 19:31:22 UTC

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