Re: Frames & WWW

James C Deikun (
Mon, 14 Nov 1994 22:31:42 +0100

On Mon, 14 Nov 1994, Phillip M. Hallam-Baker wrote:

> Even amongst file based operating systems the UNIX model of `all files are
> linear sequences of characters' is not universal. There are many systems that
> have working models. The problem cited is yet another reason why the UNIX
> file model is broken.

Personally I find record-oriented files awkward, not to mention that they
could always be represented in Unix as directories. Records are
candy-coating, they may taste good but they're hard to digest.

> Better for whom? There are many instances in which obtaining a file as a single
> unit is much more convenient. For example when editing I do not want to be
> concerned with the fact that a single logical document is accessible at the
> chapter level as separate texts.

A decent UI should be capable of attaining this level of abstraction.
Anyhow, HTML is no kind of markup language to write a book in. It's
optimized for short pages and small, simple structures.

> I prefer a structure which uses the structure of the HTML to provide location
> information. For example how about:
> H1:2/H2:4/H3:3/P:4/10,15
> Being the tenth to fifteenth tokens in the fourth paragraph in the third
> H3 within the fourth H2 within the second H1.
> Actually this is nonsense in terms of SGML because H1s etc are not containers.
> You need to incorporate Divisions for that. But remember the motto `screw SGML'.

No, this is nonsense in terms of HTML. SGML is perfectly capable of
supporting adequate structural containers, but these were not included in
the HTML spec.

How do you incorporate lists and sectioning by horizontal rules in this?

HTML just generally loses at representing large-scale 'vertical' text
structures well. This is something that ought to be fixed, not kludged

> OK given such a labeling scheme we can define a few editing operations.
> Delete, Insert, Replace to operate on the texts. We then work out the minimal
> editing operations to trasfrom one text into another. This is called
> Unification in the AI world, something I tend to associate with shaven headed
> people wearing safron robes and carrying bongo drums but there you are.

AI? Hardly. A simple variant of Unix diff could handle this fine.

> I would also humbly submit the same scheme to be used as an extension to the
> anchor label scheme in HTML proper ie say

This would be a great idea were there only some real containers to be used.

> I would also like a similar scheme for text/plain. There we need two index
> methods, row/colum and octets from start:
> fred.txt#1,3:4,6 row 1 col 3 through row 4 col 6
> fred.txt#3:56 byte 3 for 56 bytes

What form of line separation would you use for 'octets'? And how would
you deal with Unicode?

James C. Deikun
#include <std_disclaimer.h>