Re: HTML Editors

Subject: Re: HTML Editors
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 1995 12:14:37 EDT

Robert Crews suggests to A.J.:

> In my opinion, speciallized HTML editors are more trouble than
> they're worth. I've written lots of HTML code and the best setup
> I've come up with (which works on all platforms) is to create
> the HTML code with a text processor you enjoy working with and
> view the formatted text with a respected HTML browser.

There is one reason to put up with the trouble. A while back I posted a long
message describing what I see as the long term liabilities of HTML and the WWW
for us as creators of content. (By long term, I mean 6 months to a year,
depending on how fast you are populating that Web site.)

One of the big problems is that HTML is a moving target. It has been through
three major revisions already and is in the midst of a major fourth. As HTML
evolves to provide standard mechanisms for very desirable features such as
tables and document-specific style sheets, and as browsers evolve to support
those features (as well as their own proprietary ones), we will all face data
maintenance problems. The more HTML we have, the bigger the data maintenance
problem we'll face. We will find ourselves trying to upgrade megabytes of HTML
coded in original HTML 2.0, Netscape HTML, HTML+ and "HTML-My Way." If we want
to keep our sites fresh, up-to-date and unbroke, we're going to have to revisit
all these HTML pages (ugh) either by hand (very ugh) or by computer program
(somewhat less distasteful ugh).

The HTML editors like HoTMetal produce HTML code that complies with a published
standard. Right now, that means HTML 2.0, possibly with Netscape table
extensions. They make it hard to tweak the coding for special effects, but
that's part of the point. If you code from the hip, you can't be sure how your
HTML docs are going to look in future releases of browsers. (Just think of how
some Netscape-specific sites look today in Mosaic!) If you stick to a standard
HTML structure, you are creating a predictable repository of information that
can be upgraded in the future through largely automated processes. If the code
at your site doesn't follow the standard, you are probably going to end up
doing your maintenance by hand.

Best regards,

/chet

Chet Ensign
Director of Electronic Documentation
Logical Design Solutions
571 Central Avenue http://www.lds.com
Murray Hill, NJ 07974 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
908-771-9221 [Phone] 908-771-0430 [FAX]


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