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Re: Shopping baskets (was: Session tracking)

From: Paul Burchard <burchard@horizon.math.utah.edu>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 95 01:50:32 -0600
Message-Id: <9504250750.AA03401@horizon.math.utah.edu>
To: marca@netscape.com
Cc: Multiple recipients of list <www-talk@www10.w3.org>
Marc Andreessen <marca@netscape.com> writes:
> The cookie mechanism makes it trivially
> easy for the server to generate the page that shows you
> everything that's in your shopping basket (cardboard
> box) and gives you all these functions at any time

What puzzles me is -- why is the server involved in this at all?   
Why are we developing a complex stateful protocol to handle what  
amounts to the customer's private (until the final purchase decision  
is made) musings?

It's only the lack of serious client-side capabilities in today's  
Web that's keeping you from thinking about this as the client-side  
issue it naturally is.  Shouldn't we be devoting the effort  
currently going into server-side kludges (I've done my share of  
this) to improving the client capabilities?  From what I hear, Billy  
G. understands and fully intends to exploit this weakness of the  

> So the neat thing is that we get to use HTML, HTTP, forms,
> etc. as they're already defined rather than inventing
> some huge new mechanism for storing and presenting
> "items in a cardboard box"

Not quite.  You're relying on what *I* would consider a "huge new  
mechanism" -- adding complex statefulness to HTTP.  This is about as  
far from HTTP "as it's already defined" as you could get.  As the  
first two sentences of the spec say, "HTTP...is a generic,  
stateless, object-oriented protocol..."  And because the proposed  
mechanism, despite its complexity, is specialized to serve only a  
narrow range of stateful applications, I believe that its costs will  
outweigh its benefits in the long run.

Rising to the bait, though, can there be any question that client  
capabilities need to be expanded significantly?  (Judging from  
Netscape's well-considered moves announcing support for PDF and  
VRML, there wouldn't seem to be much debate.)  People see that the  
Web is cool -- but they also see that as an interface, it is still  
far from matching up to the ease of use of the prosaic software they  
use every day.  So we *do* have a huge task ahead of ourselves,  
whether we are prepared to acknowledge it or not.  And shopping  
baskets would be only a small part of the fallout of doing this  

Paul Burchard	<burchard@math.utah.edu>
``I'm still learning how to count backwards from infinity...''
Received on Tuesday, 25 April 1995 03:50:40 UTC

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