Re: Mosaic and Standards (was: Format for standards tables)

Subject: Re: Mosaic and Standards (was: Format for standards tables)
From: Matt Hicks <matt -at- UNIDATA -dot- UCAR -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 11:32:02 -0600

> You see, Mosaic provides a limited number
> of styles that you *must* use (in your original word processing doc) in
> order for the text to be properly converted into the program screen.

1. No. _Mosaic_ provides _no_ styles. The DTD for HTML defines a limited
number of styles. Mosaic is just one of many browsers that understands
and displays these styles. DO NOT confuse Mosaic with the WWW (World
Wide Web) and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Mosaic is not the
WWW, anymore than all tissues are Kleenex.

2. In general, your original document can include as many different
styles as you want, but during the conversion, they will have to be
mapped onto the more limited set of HTML styles. For example, you
might have lists labeled with roman numerals, arabic numerals, and
letters--you would set your conversion program to map all three of
these styles to the HTML style "ordered list" (<OL><LI></OL>), which
would cause them all to be displayed with arabic numerals. Admittedly,
not all converters allow you to do this, but all the good ones should.

> It would be possible, however, to create a page that had links to various
> industries/professions standards (i.e., "Click here to view our standards
> among programmers." "Click here to view our writing standards among
> student help-desk assistants").

Again, because not all browsers are Mosaic browsers, you should not
create links of the form "Click here for..." Not all browsers are
mouse driven, so you do not always click on a link. For many users
(particularly those users who are accessing your HTML pages over slow
connections with text-based browsers like Lynx), "click here" doesn't
make much sense. Something along the lines of "This link takes you
to..." would be better. Of course, there is some debate as to whether the
link takes you somewhere, or brings something to you (does the data
or the window move).

What this boils down to is that you need to think in terms of HTML,
not in terms of Mosaic. Writing documents so that they only display
properly on Mosaic is easy to do, but it is analogous to writing a
software application that only runs on Macintoshes. Yes, it is useful
to many people, but there are as many more who can't or won't use it.
The beauty of HTML is that as long as you follow the document type
description (DTD), any compliant browser will display your carefully
written information. It's like being able to write a single program
that runs on Macs, PCs and UNIX boxes.

I've been meaning to contribute more to the HTML/Mosaic/WWW
discussions on this group, but until now I haven't had the time. HTML
docs are an important piece of our user-community support services. I
have begun providing an HTML version of our newsletter (which
currently violates a couple of the rules I outlined above, but I
intend to fix that), we have HTML fact sheets, product plans, weather-
information servers, workshop applications, etc. We are a
noncommercial organization sponsored by the National Science
Foundation and serving the atmospheric science community, and we need
to provide our users with timely information at low to no cost. Some
of our manuals have already been (somewhat crudely) converted to HTML,
and future versions will be written with conversion as part of the
plan. Anyway, I'm glad to help out in this area when I can, so if
anyone has any specific problems or questions, I'll try to help out or
point you in the right direction. Bear in mind however, that I'm
probably as busy as the rest of you, so it may take me a while to respond.

Matt Hicks, Tech. Writer, Unidata * I may not agree with what you
Boulder, CO, (303)497-8676, ******* say, but I'll defend to the
matt -at- unidata -dot- ucar -dot- edu ************* death my right to mock you.

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