W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > October 1996

Re: Netscape 4.0 press release at their server

From: Scott E. Preece <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 09:00:12 -0500
Message-Id: <199610221400.JAA27912@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
To: davidp@earthlink.net
CC: www-html@w3.org
 From: "David Perrell" <davidp@earthlink.net>
| I manage or fail to manage these system-level and easily-customized
| registries and 'translations' as needs dictate. Associating .gif with
| Paint Shop Pro and .tif with PhotoShop is trivial, but I can still open
| either file type in the other app. I like things open, accessible, and
| flexible.

Who suggested you shouldn't be able to open files from any app willing
to deal with them?  All the type does is tell you the type (and,
implicitly, what the default thing to do with it is), not what
you're allowed to do with it.

| The extension<->filetype associations are just as subject to
| standardization as anything else, and don't require a change in file
| structure to accommodate registration codes.

Yes, they *could* be standardized, but they have the disadvantage of
being visible (unavoidably visible as opposed to visible when wanted).
Since you also have to type in filenames, sometimes, it is dubious from
a human factors point of view to add a component to the name that has no
naming value, can potentially be long (you'll have to add version
information to them), and may be gibberish (unless you're willing to
make them *really* long).  All of these issues would lead inevitably
towards the tools dealing with the extensions automatically and hiding
them most of the time, and you'd be right back at internal typing...

| I simply don't agree that it's a good idea to have a ever-growing
| database of registered file types that I must download regularly from
| my opsys manufacturer or some other central database.

Actually, I would expect the database would be maintained automatically
- when you install an aplication it would install the types it knows in
the database.  When you try to open a file whose type your system
doesn't know, you would look at the registry (perhaps via a Web page) to
see what you needed to handle it.

| The best file
| types for use with multiple opsystems evolve either with the
| applications that can edit or display them or in response to some
| standarization process, and that has been the case with the web as
| well.

I don't know what that sentence is trying to say.

| The application will tell me when it doesn't understand the file
| -- why should an opsys be concerned with the 'creator?'

What application?  How do you know what application to feed it to?  And
what do you do when it says it doesn't understand the file - give up?
With registered types you could at least find out what format it is, so
you could look for a converter or get the needed application.

| The systems I
| have had problems transferring files to and from on the web have been
| Macs -- the 'notable exception'.

Actually, I've had much better luck with Macs than with UNIX, where I
periodically download a file and have no way to guess what kind of a
file it is.  It was a really delightful experience to download a Mac
Single file and have it automatically turn back into a typed, forked
Macintosh file.  I wish the UNIX Fathers, who thought of so many clever
things, 27 years ago, could have thought of MIME...


scott preece
motorola/mcg urbana design center	1101 e. university, urbana, il   61801
phone:	217-384-8589			  fax:	217-384-8550
internet mail:	preece@urbana.mcd.mot.com
Received on Tuesday, 22 October 1996 09:59:56 UTC

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