re: Mosaic Accessories

Liam Relihan (
Wed, 2 Feb 1994 15:48:30 +0000 (WET)

On Wed, 2 Feb 1994 wrote:
[some cute observations on differences between European and US
researchers deleted]

> But there is something to be said for the "European school". A
> standard interface, a standard API, is a platform on which many good
> things can grow. For example, once HTTP was fairly stable, people felt
> comfortable going off and building WWW clients. Once the CGI interface
> is stable, one will see people invest in building scripts.

Mmmmmmm...I'd wonder if HTTP could be said to be stable. I have done a lot
of searching and I have still not found a definitive definition of the
HTTP "standard" as it currently stands or as it ever stood.
There are various half completed, half maintained specifications, I'll admit.

I really think that we need a little more of the "European" approach to
development. If we have not specified what has been done already, it will be
rather difficult to specify future additions.

This is a pet gripe of mine. I have written an abstract which argues for
a more formal treatment. It can be found at

In short, we must be very wary of adding functionality. We really must try
to document all changes properly and also document the rationale behind them.
Otherwise, we could program ourselves into a hole from which it will be
difficult to emerge. If a new piece of functionality is really a "good thing"
then its developer should be able to convince the rest of us of the fact.

Will there be changes in the future that will mean that browsers/clients
will need to be scrapped ? With the current state of documention and
development it is impossible to predict. We cannot expect users/authors to
put up with the need for regular changes in software just because something is
scrapped or something new is added.

For instance, CGI *appears* to be a good thing. However, who has documented
the rationale behind it ? (forgive me it this has been done sufficiently
already). While CGI *might* be a "good thing", it is still necessary for server
admins to rewrite many of their scripts. Are more changes like this to be
expected ?

With the huge quantity of documents now on the Web, it is safe to say that
we are now dealing with a real system --- not just a testbed. If changes
are made to the standards and protocols of W3, the people who make the
changes should remember that they have a responsibility to all those who
browse the Web and write for it --- ie. developers should document their
changes and explain in detail *why* they were necessary.

[more stuff deleted]
> All we need is agreement from the client builders that this is a "good
> thing" and that it's worth the effort to create an Internet Draft.

Excellent modus operandi ;-)


 Liam Relihan,               |               Voice: +353-61-333644 ext.5015
 CSIS, Schumann Building,    |/|                        Fax: +353-61-330876
 University Of Limerick,       |                     E-mail: