Proper use of HTML/SGML (was Re: Standardizing new HTML features)

Christopher McRae <>
Message-id: <9304280055.AA04724@knowman.lib.ucsf.EDU>
Subject: Proper use of HTML/SGML (was Re: Standardizing new HTML features)
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 17:57:28 MDT
From: Christopher McRae <>

  Either I'm getting used to markup, or your message was the clearest
example I've ever seen.  The text just flowed. ;^)

<QUOTE AUTHOR="Rob Raisch <>">
<OPINION> I believe that HTML, like it's progenitor SGML, should be simply a
method of describing data, not how it should appear on the screen.  In fact, I
think that this is exactly the sentiment which Tim Berners-Lee has expressed to
us all regarding his vision of HTML. The formatting of lists and the flow of
text around graphics do not fit this definition.  If this is an incorrect
assessment of the role HTML needs to serve I would be very interested in hearing
from others. </OPINION>

   HTML alone, in it's current form, is inadequate to serve the needs of
our community.  It has been designed/cultivated to describe the structure
of documents in an abstract manner.  It assumes that presentation issues
are resolved by the particular client system via some specific rendering
  However, the community of users and publishers is demanding presentation-
level markup capabilites.  For various reasons, publishers want to express
their vision of how a document should appear.

<QUESTION> What is the mechanism by which we can represent presentational
"hints" in WWW documents?  I call them "hints" because a client is always
free to ignore any markup it doesn't like or understand.

  As Ian Feldman recently pointed out, a somewhat parallel discussion has
been taking place in comp.text, comp.text.sgml, and etc.  I would call your
attention to several articles in particular:
<DT> <A HREF="">
  Four types of markup </A>
	Coombs, Renear and DeRose : Markup Systems and the Future of
	Scholarly Text Processing, in CACM 30/11 (1987) pp 933-947.
<DT> <A HREF="">
  SGML Document Design </A>
	Document design conventions versus format constraints of SGML.
<DT> <A HREF="">
  Multiple layers of markup</A>
	Why can't we define multiple layers of markup spanning all these
	levels of structure?  A client could display whichever layer(s)
	the user was currently interested in.
<DT> <A HREF="">
  Re: Multiple levels of markup </A>
	Follow-up to previous referenced article.

Christopher McRae			mail:
UCSF Center for Knowledge Management	at&t: 415/476-3577
530 Parnassus Avenue, Box 0840	 	fax: 415/476-4653
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