Re: NON-DELIVERY of: Re: Concerns about HTML+ complexity

Brian Behlendorf (
Wed, 15 Jun 1994 13:24:59 +0000 (GMT)

On Wed, 15 Jun 1994, CLilley 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!
> I would like to see some support for this rather airy dismissal.
> >The
> >only people in a position to implement a monolithic browser are those with
> >dedicated (and large) programming staffs --- such as Framemaker or Microsoft.
> Again I would like to see a reasoned argument for this contentious statement.

The point is - the reason there are college students and professional people
writing web browsers and servers in their spare time (not discounting the
real, paid-for work being done as well), and the reason that web publication
took of in spite of there being absolutely no high-level authoring tools
available, is precisely because it was easy to write and engineer. I'm
finding more and more non-technical people putting stuff up, in most cases
with wonderful results.

Right now I tell people who want to publish something on the web that they
should learn HTML, and they usually wince and cower, out of fear that HTML is
as difficult for the average user as C, or even Unix. I come back with a
"don't worry, there's really only a dozen tags to learn, and about 2 dozen
others you use every now and then", and usually within hours of reading the
"Beginners' Guide to HTML" they are making fairly high quality HTML

Because HTML is relatively simple, writing a browser is also simple (compared
to writing a compiler, say). The existance of libwww made it even simpler to

What it feared is that HTML will get more complex - and some of the
suggestions posted here recently (arbitrary SGML code, etc) threaten to make
it an order of magnitude more complex. Yes, there is going to be a tradeoff
between adding features and keeping it simple - the tables, in my mind, are a
good example of a complexity that adds significant ability.

It's moderately easy to have the core language remain simple for the authorer
- simply make all the extra complexity optional, and its exclusion still
totally valid HTML X.X. However, programmers writing browsing, authoring,
and server tools will be expected to incorporate these features into their
system, or they don't meet HTML <most-recent>.0 compliancy. If reaching that
level means incorporating SGML interpreters, etc., it may be that only
companies which can afford to pay proficient programmers a real salary for a
period of months can afford to put out a quality product. And thus, you get
the dichotomy the original poster feared, where the free stuff was, say, HTML
3.0 compliant and the for-pay stuff HTML 4.0 or 5.0 compliant.

Hopefully there's a solution to this worry - enhancing and maintaining libwww
might be the best way, as it would hopefully take care of common complex
lower-level functions, and putting as much effort into high-level tools as
possible (a product integrating a browser, editor, *and* server would be
nice) would help too.

Here's to the future.