Re: color: NCSA Mosaic, Netscape, and HTML3

Benjamin Franz (
Thu, 20 Jul 1995 12:49:54 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 19 Jul 1995, Michael Johnson wrote:

> >Let me cut to the chase:
> >
> ><rant>
> >Write and release a full featured production HTML 3.0 browser for
> >Windows, Macintosh and Unix (in order of market importance). Or quit
> >whining that other people aren't spending their money they way you
> >want them to.
> See and then you can think about the
> advisability of posting unproductive ranting to a working discussion group.

I'm glad to see it. Except for your first paragraph:

" It is currently still under development"

Add style sheets, body backgrounds and SHIP PRODUCT.
It looks to be a shit hot browser - once you add the candy items that
spell the difference between "killer app" and "frustratingly near miss".

Based on my reading of your pages, you don't consider BACKGROUND
important enough to be in your product before 1.0 ships.

Don't be stupid - it will sell more browsers than 85% of the things you
marked as being on your fix before 1.0 ships list. Backward
compatibility with existing documents is critical. People won't
immediately miss features they have never had before - they will
*definitely* miss something that worked before and doesn't now.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot. Equivalent functionality is required to
displace bad code with good code.

You should also seriously think about adding PNG graphic support. The libs
are public and free.


> I'm not pissed off at Netscape because they have market share. I'm pissed
> off at Netscape because I browse the web with my syntax checking browser
> and encounter large numbers of lousy "Netscape enhanced" and just plain
> broken pages, and it's largely their fault.

So turn off syntax checking except when you *need* it. You are going to
ship it with syntax checking turned off by default, right? Learn from
Netscape's error of "You are submitting a form insecurely...."
defaulting on. Don't annoy people unnecessarily.

> >Netscapisms *WILL NOT* go away until equivalent functionality is
> >in HTML 3.0 and in production browsers for Windows and Mac. All
> >the debate about whether or not the extensions are good or bad is utterly
> >moot. There are here. They are staying. That battle is already
> >completely lost. New browsers are implementing Netscapisms. They are the
> >*de facto* standard. The Microsoft color extensions to Netscape's <font >
> >extensions are sure to catch on like wildfire as well.
> If I hear the oxymoron "de-facto standard" one more time I may come visit
> you and throw up on your desk.

VHS video tape (who out there still uses Beta? Hi! <Hand wave> (Technically
superior - marketing loser). Doors opening into a house instead of out.
Right handed scissors. English books/paper documents being assembled with
text flowing from left to right, top to bottom of the page, pages
assembled from left cover to right cover. Table of contents being at the
start rather than the end of a book. Eight ounce aluminum cans.
One gallon milk cartons. Turning on light switches by flipping them *up*.

In each case - any formal standard did little except write down what
people already did *in practice*.

De facto standards are ubiquitous and scarcely an oxy-moron. Even HTML
2.0 is based on de facto standards: 'Codifies existing practice',
'Retained for compatibility with existing documents'.

> This is a perfect example of why everyone who is serious about the future
> of the web should be really pissed off at Netscape. They've fostered an
> environment that makes certain factions think it's OK to just throw together
> any set of "extensions" to HTML that they feel like. Never mind that HTML
> is supposed to be the glue that holds the web together, and never mind that
> they should have learned their lesson from Unix ("Unix is not Unix").

Thre is some truth to this. But the standards group is also to blame for
taking literally years to get the most *basic* items out the door. It is
really scarey to browse the site. Dead end links going to
CERN all over, HTTP methods that apparently haven't been fleshed out years
after proposal, etc, etc. The process feels almost moribund.

> >As for implementing HTML 3.0 - which version? The version that was talked
> >about last week, or the version that will be talked about next week?
> >Companies are not going to write browsers to support 3.0 features that
> >are not STABLE. It cost real money to re-engineer. Especially after shipping.
> Many of the features of HTML 3.0 are stable. Certainly stable enough that
> they can be implemented with the expectation that there will be little change
> before the standard is finalized. It doesn't take much work to, for example,
> change your internal DTD to allow IMG inside of a FIG.

Stylesheets. HTML 3.0 offers too little to convince people to migrate to it
enmass until stylesheets are solidified.

Benjamin Franz