Peter Flynn (
15 Oct 1994 03:30:56 +0100

I realize this is a highly religious issue, and many of the people
on this list (but not, I think, all) will remember me strongly voicing
my particular biases in the past. But let's at least stay serious --
"looking cute" has absolutely nothing to do with it; precise control over
appearance and layout is a major, major concern of many, if not most,
professional content providers.

Quite so, although in many cases it is a chimera. My major concerns

a. What you have implemented is, quite frankly, rubbish as far as
HTML is concerned. You have effectively shat all over the hard
work that many people, including yourself, have put in over the
last two years, by implementing nonsense that will not parse and
flies in the face of any logical approach to text markup.

b. As I have just posted to c.i.w.p, HTML is not a presentation
markup format, it describes the logical structure of your
document. If information providers want absolute control over
the presentation, then they should either use paper, or use
PostScript or GIFs, or put their money where their mouths are and
support a move to get browsers which work with arbitrary DTDs (like
DocBook or TEI) where the richness of language can bear more
specific formatting.

c. These so-called "professional" information providers have missed
utterly the whole point of WorldWideWeb and HTML. I seriously
question whether they have even considered the implications of what
has been done in development so far, and the implications of what
they have funded you to do to date. As things stand, WWW/HTML
provides an entirely portable, platform- and
implementation-independent mechanism for the transfer and display
of text, with a few minor platform or implementation-specific
features which do not disturb the overall concept. To stamp all
over this with demands for visual compliance with their specific
needs, to the demonstrable neglect of the rest of the user
community is an act of significant stupidity.

To put it simply, it's like a novice programmer with a lot of cash and
muscle insisting that C should ditch its concepts of if-then-else and
use only GOTOs.

Now, what you say is correct: a lot of people _do_ want to be able to
fix the format and appearance of their text so that the user cannot
vary it. There's nothing wrong with wanting to do this, although I do
strongly believe that in many cases it is a misdirected hangover from
thinking in terms of paper - it's the old <i> vs. <em> argument: they
think they want italics whereas what they really want is emphasis.

Let's give them the ability to specify appearance to this level if
they want, I will support it wholeheartedly. But I cannot see what is
achieved by doing it by inventing stuff which is simply _wrong_, as
has already been pointed out by other posters.

Please, Marc, understand that I am not trying to stop development, nor
strangle free commerce or anything like that. I just cannot comprehend
why you would want to go off at such a wild tangent as you apparently
have done. If HTML cannot do what you want, then put some effort into
helping us change it. If MCom prefers to develop something which is
non-HTML, because it does the job better, fine...but don't pretend
that it is HTML.