Re: Forms support in clients

Nick Arnett (
Mon, 26 Sep 1994 19:58:33 +0100

At 12:03 AM 9/26/94 -0700, Brian Behlendorf wrote:

>Another, more complete
>solution is something like WINTERP, a LISP-ish language with integrated
>user interface capabilities.

As people mention alternatives like this, I'd appreciate pointers to
background info on them.

>The way I see it, there are three things that'll give us about
>all we need in terms of functionality:
>1) HTML (with extensive presentational hints, improvements in many areas
> - I'll probably be satisfied by the time HTML 4.0 comes around :)

No, you won't... ;-) I have a hard time seeing HTML remaining any kind of
standard if it tries to go in a direction that its creators never
envisioned. Worse, it would diverge from SGML and I'll bet we'd see the
Web fragment accordingly.

>2) Acrobat/HyperPostscript/some-other-document-language-that-assumes-complete
> -control-over-presentation

At the risk of repeating myself, I have to say that I really don't think
this is an either/or proposition. Look at the announcement Sun just made
-- it is standardizing on SGML *and* Acrobat. Acrobat wasn't intended to
be a UI language, either. It will go its own direction.

>3) Browser plug-in modules to extend GUI functionality in a standard way,
> and explicitly installed by the user (the "Acrobat" plug in, the
> "AOL interface" plug-in, etc.) I don't subscribe to the notion that
> the information provider should have automatic control over that
> element.

Clearly this needs to happen, but if they're just plug-ins with freedom to
implement UIs any old way, then we might lose the Web's primary value
(IMO), which is standard, cross-platform UI.

I think we're begging a question here about the future of browsers. Do
they become window managers or something even more complex? The trouble
right now is that there's not even a standard way to open another window;
we're stuck with forms that scroll, so that the limited UI features can't
even stay place!

>There may be battles between 2 and 3 if not designed well.

Battles can be avoided if the community comes to accept the need to embrace
multiple UI models for multiple document and navigational paradigms. In
the end, we have to do what users want, whether we call them users,
publishers, customers, advertisers or whatever.