Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity

Dan Hinckley <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 20:30:50 +0200
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From: Dan Hinckley <>
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Subject: Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity
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Dan Hinckley                  The EarthWeb Project
Executive Director             voice: 303.642.7330
204 Divide View Drive            fax: 303.642.7330
Golden, CO 80403

I think you're both right.

Look, the natural evolution of HTML will go something like this: the 
standard will grow in complexity until more and more programming energy 
will have to be expended to take advantage of all of the features of 
HTML++.. Sure, shareware and pd browsers will be available, but 
commercial vendors will more and more see the opportunity in developing 
browser applications and even browser capabilities at the "OS package" 

At some point the level of complexity caused by such a diverse 
group of collaborators will scream for a re-design and hopefully someone 
as powerful as Microsoft will step up with HTML+OLE or some such, which 
will also hopefully (and quite reasonably) be backward compatible with 
HTML and come complete with a well-defined API for developers of browser 
applications. X-windows developed out of such an environment. Now, there 
is so much complexity in X (and I would include Motif, Sun, and MS 
Windows as more complex extensions of X), that it has become very costly 
to develop sophisticated GUI applications up from the ground of X.  But 
no one develops user-applications by using native resources to 
develop their widgets. Instead they use .VBX widgets and others made 
available through the richness of Microsoft (et. al.) API toolkits. Have 
you seen some of the apps non-sophisticated programmers are writing with 
Visual Basic? 

My point is this: get HTML out there, allow the complexity to grow. 
Insure that browser-developers can develop simple applications (by 
allowing them to ignore such things as HTML+ extensions), but leave room 
for just about anything some browser developer with a great idea wants to 
throw into the bag (including, yes, formatting).  The more richness and 
complexity we try to add, the more issues will be raised, and the more 
users, their appetite whet by what they see will begin to imagine -- and 
then demand -- what could be. It is that general, public notion of what 
could be which will most influence the next, commercial generation of web 
browser software, and the API tools we'll have available to us down the 

A final note: "down the road" is probably much closer than many of us 
think. PC Week (6/6:8) notes that DEC has announced bundling Mosaic with 
its NT based workstations, and IBM "is going to put Internet access in 
the box."  As a group, perhaps the most important thing we can be doing 
to influence the success of HTML/HTTP standards is to be working with 
Microsoft now, rather than later.

If anyone knows the right contact @Microsoft to invite into our 
collaboration, please let me know.

On Wed, 15 Jun 1994, Ken Fox wrote:

> > >We really need to think about who in the industry is in the best
> > >position to implement/control monolithic standards and monolithic browsers.
> > >It isn't CERN, NCSA or the community of Web hackers, that's for sure!