Re: Re. Nonstandard HTML

Subject: Re: Re. Nonstandard HTML
From: David Blyth <dblyth -at- QUALCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 12:14:07 -0700

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

I don't. My position is merely that the language standard is what
is _spoken_ - or in the case of HTML, what is written - not what
is formally _defined_. The ad-hoc standard is what's in the dictionary.

Ask a linguist and they'll tell you the same thing.

This appears to be the reverse of your position and may be at the
heart of some of our disagreement.

>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.

If HTML 2.0 were sufficient, there would be no reason for HTML 3.0 or
style sheets (which looks like it may not get into HTML 3.0).

I agree that some ISP or other Web sites are jerks. I disagree that
this is a function of HTML. I believe that your own examples show
that this is a function of the Web site administrator.

I agree that you can provide links for browser-challenged users. And I do.
I disagree that this requires that I must follow the standard. I don't.

>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.

Funny thing, what. As languages mature, they split into dialects.
And the more dialects you know, the better you can communicate.

Both Netscape and MS give lip server to HTML 3.0. But at a guess,
we're stuck with a pretty heavy split for several more years. And
neither you nor I are going to change Mark Andreessen's or Bill Gate's
mind. All we can do is look at what's in the market.

Speaking of which...

>If you design for the single largest percentage, you'll be designing
>for Netscape, but even those numbers are shrinking

As I mentioned in another post, Netscape has shown a sharp, vertical
drop from 79% of the entire market all the way down to a crummy 78%.
I'll start worrying about it when they get down to merely dominating
everyone at about 60%. Say in 6 months to 1 year or more.

>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.

What's more likely to be a standard? A browser that is rigidly
tied to an OS (like Internet Explorer and WebExplorer) or a
browser that can run on the 3 major platforms?

>If you design to the currently-growing "standard" (Internet Explorer),
>you're still leaving out the largest percentage.

1) You really should check your numbers before you make this argument.
The largest percentage is Netscape, at 78% of the market. The next
largest is AOL, at 7%. Internet Explorer has 6%, Mosaic 5%.

Check out, click on "Web Trends" to verify these numbers.

2) If Internet Explorer is at 6%, then why do you consider it to be a
"growing standard"? Because it's MicroSoft? ;). And if the market
is splitting up - your own words again - then how can there be a
growing standard at all?

>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.

I agree that this is a problem. And I agree that this may eventually
make my job harder. I disagree that following the formal HTML 2.0
standard will modify Netscape's or MicroSoft's behavior. It won't.

Not that it matters much - I have to design my Web site for the language
that is _used_ by the market - not the language that is defined by W3.

David (The Man) Blyth
Technical Writer

PS. As to your implied criticism of Net$cape and M$, my heart bleeds
that some companies are actually trying to make money.

Blodo Poa Maximus

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