Re: Vendors taking SGML seriously
Wed, 12 Apr 95 12:39:30 EDT

Amanda Walker writes:
> Arthur van Hoff wrote:
> > Not as far as I'm concerned. Most HTML product vendors don't take the SGML
> > standard seriously, probably because most web info providers are not much
> > concerned with document interchange, structure driven search, etc.
> I think this is an oversimplification. We were repeatedly pounded on
> during the test cycle for our HTML browser because we wrote it according
> to the HTML 2.0 draft spec and SGML. As a result, we failed to duplicate
> the bugs that permeate other browsers, and were told "we don't care if
> it's legal or not, every other browser handles it just fine and yours
> should too." We've had to add specific code to our parser to duplicate
> specific common HTML/SGML parsing bugs in order to be able to convince
> people that our browser isn't broken (and we still get bug reports that
> amount to "page X is displayed wrong--I checked in both Netscape and
> Mosaic!").

Ahhh, the wonderful world of browser writing. I've gotten to the point
of just telling the people 'Well they do it wrong!', but then I don't sell
my browser. :)

> We're probably going to go the route of Arena and put up a big red
> "ILLEGAL HTML" sign whenever we hit something, and maybe offer to pop up
> a bug report form detailing exactly where and how the page is illegal.

I think more browsers should do this - I've had a 'debugging' feature in
emacs-w3 for a while now that did just this, and its pretty helpful. I
wish arena had the option of doing a split-window and seeing source and
HTML at the same time, with the bad areas marked in red or some such.
Having to launch the editor to see the offending areas is a bit of a pain.

> I think you'll see vendors starting to enforce strict SGML compliance
> just as soon as the WWW community at large decides it's a feature instead
> of a bug.

One thing that will help bring this on is a good WYSI(sortof)WYG HTML
editor for dirt cheap or free, that validates against a DTD. HoTMetaL is a
good one, and psgml (if it was easier to set up). This is on the drawing
board for both emacs-w3 and Arena as well.

> We can get away with taking a stronger stance than some vendors because
> we don't make all our money off of HTML software, but even we have to be
> pragmatists or we lose sales and reputation. We spent about twice as
> much time getting our parser to swallow common illegal HTML than we did
> getting it up and running on legal content.

Only twice as long? You must have forgotten something then. :)

-Bill P.