Re: Using HTML

Subject: Re: Using HTML
From: Laura Lemay <lemay -at- DEATH -dot- KALEIDA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 10:57:40 +0800

What is HTML?

We've been looking into this for distributing our online docs, so here's
a summary, as I understand it:

HTML is the HyperText Markup Language, used most often for documents
that are distributed via the World Wide Web.

Allow me to back up a bit more.

The World Wide Web is a framework for the distribution of documents and
other information on the internet, in real time. Its sort of like
ftp and gopher and archie, only its more immediate -- rather than finding
out what you want and then going out and getting it from whatever site has it,
you browse sites, and then view or download what you want.

Viewing documents is done via an application called Mosaic, available
*free* from NCSA. It runs on Xwindows, MS Windows, and Macs.
Generally, you need a machine directly connected to the internet for it
to work. There is also a text-only version of Mosaic that is part of
the gnu Emacs distribution.

When you start up Mosaic, you get a "home page." The home page has
hypertext links to other sources of information, and means to navigate
to and from those links. The links take you to sites all over the
world via the internet. There are also images and sounds and other
forms of information that you can access via mosaic.

Its quite cool.

That said, HTML is a document format used by the documents that are
available via mosaic. As a markup language, it is quite primitive; other
than some basic formatting and font changes, its main claim to fame is
the ability to put in hypertext links to other sites and documents on the
world wide web.

The advantages of HTML over other online markup systems? Its main advantage
is that the "player," the application Mosaic, is freeware. The HTML spec
is also freeware. Also, there are lots of filters popping up to convert
document formats such as RTF (Rich Text Format) to HTML. The more popular
it gets, the more should be appearing.

The disadvantages are that the hypertext is rather primitive. Its more
a system for presenting pages of text on line with links rather than a
full-featured system for creating extensive online help.

Also, it *is* first and foremost a system for distributing documents over
the internet. Although we have heard that you can use Moasic and HTML
locally (for example, on a CD), we're not sure yet. We're still exploring it.

As to the text question; I have seen the emacs text-only mosaic running.
complete with live links. I run emacs on a vt100 all the time, but I
don't know if that qualifies as a text-only solution.

Hope this helps --

Laura Lemay

Tech Writer/Tools Weenie
Kaleida Labs

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