Re: Re. Nonstandard HTML

Subject: Re: Re. Nonstandard HTML
From: Matt Ion <soundy -at- NEXTLEVEL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 09:50:25 -0800

On Mon, 22 Apr 1996 14:36:56 -0700, David Blyth wrote:

>> David Blyth suggested that <paraphrase> if a significant
>> number of folks aren't following the [html 2] standard,
>> than perhaps it's not the standard.

>I'll stand by this paraphrase.

There are standards, and then there are ad-hoc "standards"... don't
confuse the two.

>> HTML _is_ a standard, and if you write to the standard, you'll meet
>>the needs of more users than if you ignore the standard.

>I disagree. There are a _lot_ of users (about 90% of the market)
>who believe that their communication needs are better met with
>non-standard HTML elements.

I have to disagree here... of that 90%, another 90% likely don't know
the difference, and couldn't care less about "communication needs."
Most of those only know that when they click on the "Internet" icon,
this thing with a big 'N' in the top-right corner comes up and lets
them look at pretty things on the Internet.

>I mean, how wild are we getting here?
>Why is centering text or using a table so controversial? Why am
>I supposed to gain 10% so I can annoy 90%? Because it's the standard?

The issue, as far as I'm concerned at least, is not leaving out fancier
tags just because not everyone can use them, but in making sure that
you don't RELY on those fancy tags, because the data they encompass may
end up not being visible to someone whose browser doesn't support them.

Again I'd point out the case of the ISP's homepage I visited that
placed all their pricing information in then-new tables that my browser
didn't support. It would have been nice to know what their pricing was
like, since I needed a place to put up a WWW page, but that page was
completely illegible, so they lost my business.

All it would have taken was a simple "click here if your browser
doesn't support tables" link to a page using the <pre> tag for a block
of preformatted text, but instead they forged right ahead, doing their
page up to a non-standard "standard" while completely ignoring the rest
of the world.

IME, this even affects portions of that alleged 90% of users. When I
worked tech support at another local ISP, I discovered that yes, some
90% of their users were using the little package of Windows shareware
they distributed... but that included Netscape 1.0, and probably no
more than 15% of their users had ever bothered to upgrade from there.
Most, even if they did manage to click their way to Netscape's homepage
and download a newer version, wouldn't know how to find their way to a
command prompt to unzip it. Suddenly that supposed 90% that could view
their nice hoity-toity high-end web page, dropped to about 13%.

>Like the French, I'm far more interested in actually communicating
>than I am in actually following the standard.

The problem is, the more the different communication media (ie. the
browsers) stray from that standard, the smaller your audience becomes,
as the split up into different browser camps. If you design for the
single largest percentage, you'll be designing for Netscape, but even
those numbers are shrinking as more and more as operating systems
shipped *with* browsers (ie. Win95 with Internet Explorer and OS/2 with
WebExplorer) become more widespread and people don't want to bother
with Netscape. If you design to the currently-growing "standard"
(Internet Explorer), you're still leaving out the largest percentage.

What makes things worse, of course, is that the same battle for tag
supremacy that gives you the means to communicate so much better means
that the two major players (Net$cape and Micro$oft) are taking their
browsers in different directions, which makes your job harder by either
forcing you to start designing to two or more "standards", or to leave
part of the populace out when it comes to seeing the "extras" you use
to "communicate" better.

Your friend and mine,
"Maybe all I need, besides my pills and surgery,
is a new metaphor for... reality." -- Queensryche

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Next Level
Productions, or anyone else of sound mind from this planet or dimension!

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