Re:Comments: HTML3 at

Dan Connolly (
Thu, 9 Mar 1995 18:03:38 +0500

Daniel Glazman writes:
> In message <> 8 Mar 95 14:49:13, wrote:
> > The OL and UL idioms are widely accepted and understood. The cost
> > of supporting them at this point is minimal. The cost of removing
> > them would be tremendous, and to what benefit?
> Marked sections have been added to the DTD at least in order
> to rearrange things keeping compatibility with the former documents.

I am aware of the mechanisms for evolving the language. The question
is not just "Is <list> better than <ul> and <ol>?" It's more like "Is
<list> sooo much better than <ul> and <ol> that we should turn the
world upside down to change it?" What motivates this change? You would
agree that the cost of making the change (existing documents, existing
understanding, "About HTML" documents, conversion scripts...) is

Before seriously considering a change from <ul> and <ol> to <list>,
I'd like to see significant motivation.

The web evolution should be a series of "downhill steps." For each
change, the cost of making the change should be outweighed by its benefit,
from the perspective of each involved party.

This is how the web evolved to the state where it is. The tools were
fairly raw raw to begin with, but there was a group of folks to whom
the value of being a part of this information space outweighed the cost
of dealing with the tools. As the tools get better, the size of this
audience increases. But more importantly, as Marc Andreessen quoted
(from whom?), the value of a network goes up as the _square_ of the
number of resources involved.

So on the one hand, we're now to the point where the web is
sufficiently valuable that we can expect folks to go to some expense
to deal with it. We can afford to make things somewhat more rich
and complex than when the only client was the linemode browser.

On the other hand, if we make some change that the web community
decides is not worth the trouble, they will simly ignore it. They
will simply continue doing what they're doing.

> > <ul> is easier to type than <list unordered>.

Forget I ever said this. Never mind.

> > The author of the HTML 3.0 draft has weighed quite of evidence
> > carefully, and found a balance that he believes will support a wider
> > variety of distributed information applications on the web.
> > I think the draft needs some significant work, but it is in the
> > right direction.
> The draft shows a set of directions; I mean it keeps too
> much old fashion stuff. I do believe HTML needs a good dust removal.
> Then we could select the right direction in this set.

I had a history teacher who was fond of saying:

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very
merry christmas."

My career as a software developer is a constant battle between
putting band-aids on bugs and re-writing the whole thing to get
it really right.

If I had it to do all over again, HTML would be quite different.
(Go back and look at the 1992-93 archives of www-talk[1] to see some
of my ideas, and some of the other ideas that were kicked around.)

But we don't have it to do all over again. HTML has a lot of momentum.

If you have a clear, complete proposal about how we should proceed,
let's see it. Let's try it out and see how it fairs in competition
with the other proposals.