Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity (Ken Fox)
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 19:34:13 +0200
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From: (Ken Fox)
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Subject: Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity
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> > If I apply this reasoning to HTML+, then there must be some point at which a
> > browser becomes so complex that very few people are willing (or able?) to
> > implement one.  Obviously we are not yet at that point with HTML.  (Looking
> > at the popularity of Mosaic vs. other browsers though, it seems that HTML is
> > already hard enough to implement that browsers are not casual undertakings.)
> Several developments will help to manage the increasing complexity for 
> Web browser and even viewer developers, including definition of a Common 
> Client Interface and ways of "modularizing" the HTML spec.

What's a Common Client Interface?  and how does it interact with the HTML
spec?  and who is modularizing HTML?  The only thing I've seen was some sort
of interoperability or feature matrix.  I hope that's not what you mean.

> There will 
> certainly always be a place for powerful, commercially-developed browsers 
> & viewers, but the situation seems comparable to that for X Window 
> Managers, of which there are several very good free ones.

Hypothetical conversation between X guru and user:

USER: Gee can you combine the window border rendering code used in Motif
      with the icon rendering of ctwm and then add the workspace
      functionality of HP-vue?

GURU: No.  Go away.

USER: Why not?

GURU: Because they are different window managers.  You have to choose one.

USER: But I don't like any of them really.  Why can't I just take what I
      want from each?

GURU: Because that's not the way they work.

USER: That's dumb.  Why didn't somebody think about this.

GURU: You can't imagine how much thinking people did about this.  They thought
      it was enough just to be able to change *window managers*.  Go away.

USER: You mean we have to re-invent all of those great features inside of a
      brand new window manager?

GURU: What's wrong with that?  You want it you write it.  Go away.

> The WWW 
> technologies are, after all, _OPEN_ (as opposed to most commercial desktop 
> publishing and/or hypermedia environments).  

They are open now.  But for how long and to what degree?

> > We could probably say that the goal of the current HTML+ specification is to
> > provide desktop-publishing-like content and presentation to HTML....  
> I perceive it as more like "to provide a baseline of content and 
> presentation capability to HTML and the capability for browsers to 
> interact with sophisticated accessories for more powerful presentation 
> modes."

Okay.  But people are pushing for the baseline to be desktop publishing... :-)

> > ...  Web browsers
> > will start to look an awful lot like desktop-publishing applications.  
> I think it's rather that Web browsers + their "accessory aplets" will ....

Accessory applets are a great idea --- and I'd like to see them explicitly
supported by the HTML+ spec.

> > How many freely available desktop publishing tools do you know?  Who dominates
> > the desktop-publishing market?  How easy is it to make a desktop-publishing
> > application?  Who controls the desktop-publishing document format standard?
> That last question is pretty interesting ... I would say the answer is 
> changing!  The applications you are talking about here are analogous to HTML 
> _editors_, not _browsers_.  I agree that the realm of HTML _editors_ 
> will be dominated by commercial products.  Let's be real:  HoTMetaL is 
> really a "loss-leader" for its commercial version -- and I for one 
> think that's just dandy, thanks!  Even so, I am sure there will 
> always be the emacs extensions, etc. ....
> Steve Waterbury

A browser is at least half an editor --- probably the most difficult half.

I was being sarcastic about the desktop-publishing standard --- there is no
standard.  There are only a few very popular applications.  People have
gotten use to doing document conversions, dealing with different systems and
just generally not being able to share work.  This is such a great model for
the Web that I can't believe we couldn't see it before.  (*Serious* sarcasm
here... :-)

- Ken

Ken Fox,, (313)59-44794
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