Re: Diverse Tools (was HTML editors)

Subject: Re: Diverse Tools (was HTML editors)
From: "Simon North" <north -at- synopsys -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 09:31:53 +0200

I nearly always agree with Andrew, but here I have to draw the line.

> Most WYSIWYG editors produce perfectly fine HTML.

Very few WYSIWYG editors produce "perfectly fine" HTML,
although I've never met that definition of the code. Most produce
spaghetti garbage code that makes reuse almost impossible.

> All the more reason to stick with tools from established companies,
> like Microsoft.

Microsoft's tools are some of the WORST offenders. Front Page
will even corrupt known good code to do things the way it thinks
best. Microsoft Word's HTML output is appalling.

In the name of "rough concensus and running code" we (and I'm as
guilty as anyone) have used HTML as a tag set when we should
have been using a markup language. This sloppiness will come
back to bite us, but more to the point we should be looking forward
to an increasingly semantically useful Web, which may or may not
be based on XML ... but must in any case be more stringently
marked up.

As technical writers, acquainted with the merits of SGML and
markup languages in general, and aware of the technical issues
involved in single sourcing and information re-use, I am more than a
little embarrassed for my profession that we have not be in the
vanguard pleading for standardization on valid HTML (as in
conformant to the W3C DTD for HTML documents).

There is no question that you should use the same tool ... but do
not be mistaken about the value of that tool. As long as we "stick
with tools for established companies", like whoever (I have no
grudge against Microsoft) without looking beyond the tool and at
the quality of the output, HTML will never be more than a dead-end
publishing format and information re-use and single sourcing will
never be more than isolated activities. We do our audiences and
ourselves a disservice.

Simon North
SGML fanatic.

And for an honest attribute cry out ...
Pericles IV-iii

I might say 'element,' but the word is over-worn.
Twelfth Night, III-i


A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and
three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe.

+++ Miramo -- Database/XML publishing automation. See us at +++
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Diverse Tools (was HTML editors): From: Andrew Plato

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