Re: Structured text v. page descriptions (was Netscape, HTML, and

Nick Arnett (
Thu, 27 Oct 1994 18:37:44 +0100

At 12:46 AM 10/27/94, Chris Lilley, Computer Graphics Unit wrote:

>Main problem is, this is specific to a particular browser. I may well wish to
>use others. I do not want to have to use another browser just to look at links
>from pdf documents. I particularly do not want to have to use a different

Could you clarify the first objection a bit? The second one I find quite
reasonable. Having to buy a new machine to view a document would be a bit
extreme. But I have a hard time imagining that it would be a good thing to
try and make one browser, at least under the current architecture, try to
do everything. Are you objecting only to the resulting inconsistent user
interface? The memory footprint? The loose integration? (They're all
related, I imagine.)

One reason that the interface presented by Mosaic is consistent is that
it's so limited. For example, we'd like to be able to open up at least
three windows (or panes) and maybe a navigational palette. We'd like to
display sources, topics and search results. Doing that in a way that's
consistent with others would be ideal, but right now, we can't do it at
all. I don't want to sacrifice *good* UI for the sake of consistently
mediocre UI.

In Chicago, I made a joke about in-line PDF documents, which drew a hard
stare and "Why not?" from Dave Raggett. I'm slow, but I figured out that
his basic point, which is that just about anything might be in-lined, is at
least worth considering.

But it brings us back to the same question that has been kicked around here
several times -- how do we distribute executables safely? With Acrobat as
a helper application, we trust that when we ftp it from, it's
safe. It's a bit more fear-inducing when there are lots of people
distributing executables that would somehow be linked into a browser so
that features like in-line PDF would be possible.

In any event, today's situation is that we are coming from the helper
application model, which could lead us toward a future in which Web
browsing becomes a components of many applications, so the the browser you
get depends on the nature of the document you retrieve. Some suggest that
Mosaic, for example, might become little more than a window manager.