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Re: lynx-dev Is this List for Lynx users or *just* developers

From: David Woolley
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Is this List for Lynx users or *just* developers
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 09:01:11 +0100 (BST)

> The right way?? I don't think so, bud! The right way, is the way _I_ want

Unfortunately, like most commerical web page authors, you hve failed
to realise one one of the fundamental principles of HTML: the user controls
presentation, in some cases by the choice of browser.  Especially given
that many people rely on undocumented features and implementation details
in the big 2 to achieve this, this is one of the main problems for
minor browsers.

HTML has a strong viewer control philosophy, whereas most advertisers
(most web sites are effectively advertising) want to take control of
the viewer.

What the market wants is something that:

- produces tightly controlled presentation on graphical displays;
- works over the internet;
- supports incremental loading;
- has a client pre-installed by Microsoft;
- is fashionable.

PDF was designed for the first of these, and, arguably HTML/CSS has
not overtaken its suitability for this before the creation, or at least
popularisation, of HTML.  HTML was designed specifically not to compete
with this sort of tool!

Working over the internet has been added (although, in reality, most 
commercial sites only require that it be downloadable over the internet,
which was possible from the early days of the web - most commercial sites
are single compound documents with no outbound links, rather than a collection
of resources intimately embedded into the web).

Incremental loading has existed for a few years.

Fashionability (it pre-dates HTML, after all) and Microsoft not pre-installing
it (you should use Word) are problems.

The result is that nearly every web page is a travesty of HTML as people
desparately try to simulate a page description language, like PDF, with a
tool that was designed for a completely different purpose.  They would be
much better off being honest about their requirements and using the tool
for the job.  (This would be bad for accessibility, but I don't think the
current HTML travesties are good for it either.)

Tools like Lynx work best when people understand HTML, but do have to make
concessions to the real world use of HTML.

Incidentally, some other reasons for the initial popularity of HTML were:

- it could be hand coded;
- you didn't have to buy expensive authoring tools;
- therefore any old student web page hacker could create your page.

However, most commercial HTML is not created using authoring tools, some
expensive, and there are free tools for authoring PDF.

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